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The . 








1846 — 1896 

The History of its First Half Century 

Edited by 

George Brown Goode 




In iyg6, George Washingto7t, m his farewell address to his 
fellow-countrymen, said : "■Promote, then, as an object of pri- 
mary importajice, institutiojts for the general diffusion of 
knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government 
gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opiiiion 
should be enlightened^ Thirty years later an E7iglishma7i, 
James Smithson, as though influenced by these words, be- 
queathed the whole of his property to the Uitited States of 
America in trust '' to foicnd at Washington an establishment 
for the increase a7id diffusion of knowledge among meny John 
Quincy Adams, in pre s editing to the Natio7ial House of Repre- 
sentatives the first report of the Select Committee on the mes- 
sage of the President announcing the Smithson Bequest, ex- 
horted his colleagues in these woi^ds: ^^ Let the trust of James 
Smithson to the United States of America be faithfully exe- 
cuted by their representatives in Congress ; let the result ac- 
complish his object : ' the increase and di^usion of knowledge 
among men! " 

The Act of Congress establishing the Smithsonian Institu- 
tion was sighted by President Polk on Atcgtist lo, 18^6, and 
on September 7 the Board of Regents held its first meetijig. 
The past year marks the close of the first half century of the 
operatiofis of the Institution. This volume presents the sto7y 
of the realization of one of the desires of Washington, through 
the will of Smithson, the wise legislation of Congress, and the 
devotion of those upon whom the management of the Smithso- 
nian Institutio7i has devolved. 


The Executive Mansion, 
Washington, June 22, i8gy. 


The law establishing the Smithsonian Institution luas signed 
by President Polk on August lo, 18^6, and the first organic 
act of the histitution was a meeting of the Board of Regents, 
held on Septe^nber 7 of that year. As far back as i8gj, in 
viezv of the approaching completion of the first half ce7itu7y, I 
discussed with the Executive Committee of the Regents the 
best method of celebi^ating this event. 

It seemed quite impracticable to arrange for a gathering of 
delegates from other scientific institutions, such as is ofte^i held 
on similar occasions by institutions aiid learned bodies, and the 
simplest and most efiective means of commemorating it ap- 
peared to be the publication of a sici table volume, which would 
give an acco7i7it of the history, achievements, and present con- 
dition of the Smithso7iia7i l7istitutio7i. 

Doctor G. B7VW71 Goode, zvhose acquai7ita7ice with its history 
was unrivaled, drew 7ip a C077ip7^ehe7isive pla7i for the vohmie, 
a7id 071 its app7'oval, Doctor lames C Welli7ig, a Rcge7it, 
agreed to U7ide7^takc its edito7Hal supe7^visio7t. Doctor Well- 
ing s death sce7ned to put a stop to the pivposed work, for there 
appeared to be 710 07ie S2cfficie7itly acquainted zuith the history 
of the histitution who had the ability, the willi7ig7iess, a7id 
the leisu7^e to assu77ie this ve7y co7iside7^able task. It was the7i 
that Doctor Goode told me of his great desire to imdertake the 
work. K7iozvi7ig how ittmierotis his duties already were, I at 
first refused, a7id it was 07ily at his ear7test solicitatio7i that I 
agreed to his request. 

The 77ianuscript was so fa7^ advanced at the ti77ie of his death 
as to render possible its co77ipletio7t for the press, a7id its publi- 
cation tip07i the li7ies he laid dow7i. He had 7iot 07ily writte7i 
many of the chapters, but had 77tade ain'a7ige77ie7its for the illus- 

vi Introduction 

tratioiis and other details of the book. ThoiLgJi this lamejited 
event has delayed its appearance, I have been enabled to sec2ire 
the aid of valued assistants who have carried the work through. 
I have added to the ojHginal plan a biographical sketch of 
Doctor Goode, by Doctor David Starr Jordan, P^rsidcnt of the 
Leland Stanfoi^d Junior University. 


Smithsoniaji Lnstitution, 

Washington, June 23, 1897, 



PREFACE, BY THE President of the United States iii 




JAMES SMITHSON, BY Samuel Pierpont Langley I 



Brown Goode 25 



Brown Goode 59 


THE THREE SECRETARIES, BY George Brown Goode 115 





Goode 247 




viii Contents 


the united states national museum, by frederick william 

True 303 




WiNLOCK 397 






Frederick William True 459 




Starr Jordan, President of Leland Stanford Junior University .... 501 




PHYSICS, BY Thomas CorWIN MendENHALL, President of the Worcester 

Polytechnic Institute 5^9 



Columbia University 5^^ 


Contents ix 

■'■-'■-'• PAGE 

ASTRONOMY BY EdwARD SinglETON HoldEN, Director of the Lick Ob- 
servatory 571 


CHEMISTRY, BY MaRCUS BENJAMIN, Fellow of the Chemical Society of 

London 611 



of Geology, Wesleyan University 631 


METEOROLOGY, BY Marcus BENJAMIN, Fellow of the Chemical Society of 

London 647 


PALEONTOLOGY, BY Edward Drinker Cope, Professor of Mineralogy 

and Geology, University of Pennsylvania 679 


BOTANY, BY William GiLSON FarloW, Professor of Cryptogamic Botany, 

Harvard University 697 


ZOOLOGY, BY Theodore Gill, Professor of Zoology, Columbian University 711 


ANTHROPOLOGY, BY JesSE Walter FewkES, Editor of the Journal of 

American Ethnology and ArchcEology 745 


GEOGRAPHY, BY GARDINER GreENE HubBARD, President of the National 

Geographic Society 773 


BIBLIOGRAPHY, BY HenrY CarRINGTON BolTON, Lecturer on the His- 
tory of Chemistry, and Professor of Bibliography, Columbian University . . 785 

X Contents 


President of Johns Hopkins University 805 


Director of the New York Public Library 815 


of Congress 823 



Compiled by William Jones Rhees 833 

INDEX 843 



By Samuel Pierpont Langley 

^jlHE founder of the Smithsonian Institution was 
known in his earlier years as James Lewis 
Macie, his mother, Elizabeth Keate Macie, 
being at the time of his birth, in 1765, the 
"'^'^^ widow of James Macie, a country gentleman 
of an old family resident at Weston, near Bath. She was 
of the Hungerfords of Studley, a great-grandniece of 
Charles, Duke of Somerset, through whom she was lineally 
descended from Henry the Seventh, and was cousin of that 
Elizabeth Percy who married Hugh Smithson (who later 
became Duke of Northumberland, and by act of Parliament 
took the name of Percy). 

An unverified story represents Smithson's mother as at one 
time hoping to have contracted a marriage with the Duke 
of Northumberland, and seeking, for that purpose, a divorce 
from her husband, which he successfully opposed; but, in any 
case, the subject of our sketch, who only apparently after his 
mother's death applied to the Crown for permission to take 
the name of Smithson, describes himself in his final will as 
" son to Hugh, first Duke of Northumberland, and Elizabeth, 

2 The Smithsonian Institution 

heiress of the Hungerfords of Studley, and niece of Charles, 
the proud Duke of Somerset." 

We need not, then, practise a reticence which Smithson 
himself did not desire to observe, especially since the facts 
are already public. There is, indeed, the further reason that 
it is especially to these facts that the foundation which bears 
his name is due, for Smithson always seems to have regarded 
the circumstances of his birth as doing him a peculiar injus- 
tice, and it was apparently this sense that he had been de- 
prived of honors properly his which made him look for other 
sources of fame than those which birth had denied him, and 
constituted the motive of the most important action of his life, 
the creation of the Smithsonian Institution. 

By the student of human nature every man's conduct is 
judged in reference to its determining motives, and if we try 
Smithson's from the point of view of his own time, not of ours, 
we shall not judge too hardly the fact that the circumstances 
of his birth and his feeling that he was by right a Northum- 
berland and a Percy were a subject of pride to him as well as 
of pain. He once wrote : ^ 

"The best blood of England flows in my veins; on my 
father's side I am a Northumberland, on my mother's I am 
related to Kings,^ but this avails me not. My name shall live 
in the memory of man zvhen the titles of the Northtimber lands 
ajid the Percys are extinct and forgotteni' 

It has been wondered that Smithson should have left his 
fortune for the purpose he did, but not by those who have 
considered the sentence placed here in italics, where we surely 

1 Rhees's "Smithson and his Bequests." the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey, great-grand- 
" Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections," daughter of King Henry VII, grandniece of 
volume XXI. Henry VIII, and cousin of Elizabeth. His 

2 Doctor Goode pointed out in his "Account ancestor in the ninth generation, Edward Sey- 
of the Smithsonian Institution," written for the mour, the first Duke of Somerset and Protec- 
Atlanta Exposition, that : " Smithson was of tor of England, was thebrother of Queen Jane 
royal descent, through his maternal ancestor, Seymour and the uncle of King Edward VI." 

James Smithson 3 

scarcely need to read between the lines to see the genesis of 
the institution which perpetuates the name he bore, in place 
of the titled one he was denied. 

It will be observed from facts given later that it was only 
under circumstances which showed that he had no right to 
the name of Macie (which seems to have been first imposed 
upon him under circumstances which left him free to change 
it) that he in later life had that of Smithson, to which he had 
every moral right, legally confirmed to him. After pointing 
out that the change was obtained under circumstances which 
do him no discredit, we are chiefly concerned with this sense 
of the injustice under which he labored from its after results; 
for if the kind of pride which dictated the first sentence I 
have above quoted be one which, from the point of view of 
the present day, attracts little sympathy, we can feel more 
with the worthier spirit which resulted from it, and in which 
he wrote the second. We are in no ways concerned with the 
ancestral honors or titles of the Percys, as such; but if there 
be anything in heredity, we may supplement our limited 
knowledge of him by some consideration of that very remark- 
able man, the first Duke of Northumberland, whose child 
Smithson declared himself to be, and undoubtedly was; for 
the father was remarkable, not in having been born great, 
but in having achieved greatness, — at least a greatness of 
that sort which his less fortunate son must always have 
envied him. 

Hugh Smithson, the father of the founder of the Smithso- 
nian Institution, was the son of Langdale Smithson, who, ac- 
cording to another unverified tradition, occupied for a time the 
then relatively unconsidered position of a medical practitioner. 
The Smithsons, however, were an old family, which was, in 
fact, remotely connected by lineage with the Percys. As 
country gentlemen they were reared in the habit of person- 

4 The Smithsoniaft Instihttion 

ally managing their estates ; and, notwithstanding his culture 
and his refined and artistic tastes, the business aptitude of 
his race was strong in Smithson's father. 

The entertaining story of his courtship of the grand- 
daughter of "the proud Duke" of Somerset is told in the 
"Annals of the House of Percy," and it is not necessary to 
repeat it here further than to remark that in it, as in every- 
thing else, he showed the tact, persistence, and ability which 
raised him from the position of a private gentleman to one of 
the first dukedoms of England at a time when such a transi- 
tion was regarded as transcending all possibility, and became 
the subject of wonder after it had happened. 

As a landlord. Sir Hugh Smithson (as he afterwards be- 
came) ^ had been conspicuous for good management. After 
his marriage to the heiress of the Percys he restored Aln- 
wick Castle, and lived there so expensively that Horace 
Walpole wrote of the new groom and bride that they would 
soon have no estate left ; but the prophecy was falsified by the 
marked ability of the future Duke, who, though he continued 
to maintain what was even then considered magnificent state, 
showed such extraordinary administrative capacity as enabled 
him not only to keep undiminished but to very greatly increase 
the important possessions which became his wife's after their 
marriage; for at the date of Sir Hugh Smithson's marriage, 
in 1749, the rent rolls of Alnwick Castle amounted to ^8,607, 
while in 1778 they had increased to ^^50,000, and all this 
while a liberal and even magnificent scale of expenditures 
appears to have been adopted.^ 

If he be a benefactor to mankind who makes two blades 
of grass grow where one grew before, then the new Lord of 

1 He succeeded to the title of Baronet on 2 See "Annals of the House of Percy," by 

the death of his grandfather, Sir Hugh Smith- Edward Barrington de Fonblanque, London, 
son, which took place in 1729. i887,Volume 11, page 531, and Appendix xxvi. 

James Smithson 5 

Northumberland did indeed entitle himself to the gratitude 
of those within the influence of his kindly rule. 

"He found the country almost a desert," says the Bishop 
of Dromore, "and he clothed it with woods and improved it 
with agriculture."^ For more than twenty years he is said 
to have planted annually over twelve hundred trees; he im- 
ported specimens of hitherto unknown timber, fruits, and 
flowers from various parts of the world, and expended large 
sums not only in the reclamation and drainage of lands, but 
in the improvement of the dwellings of his laborers, at a time 
when the physical comfort or moral well-being of the poor 
rarely occupied the thoughts of the lords of the soil. 

He showed a like ability in his dealings with the Crown, 
which procured him the unprecedented step from the baro- 
netcy to the dukedom, and in every part of his life (with which 
we are not further concerned here) he showed himself an ex- 
ceptionally able man.^ 

American history and poetry remember his son, the half- 
brother of Smithson, who — 

" Fought for King George at Lexington, 
A Major of Dragoons,"^ 

1 See " Annals of the House of Percy," by 
Edward Harrington de Fonblanque, London, 
1887, Volume II, page 531, and Appendix 
XXVI, citing Collins's [Peerage] 5th edition. 

2 The Duke showed the independence of 
his character, as well as the soundness of his 
judgment as a statesman, by opposing the 
party in power upon the question of war with 
the Colonies, obtaining leave of absence for 
his son, Lord Percy, who was ordered to 
America. Of this, however, Lord Percy re- 
fused to avail himself, contending that he 
could not at such a juncture withdraw. He 
accordingly embarked for Boston in the 
spring of 1774, and his journal and letters 
during the succeeding years throw light upon 
many of the incidents of the struggle. 

3 The fact that the heir of the house of 
Percy commanded the force of the British 


troops which saved the retreat from Concord 
made a strong impression upon the fathers 
of New England who fought on the memor- 
able day, and is often mentioned. This asso- 
ciation of the story of the defeat and pursuit 
of the British troops with the name of Percy, 
in the minds of the rustic victors, is alluded 
to by Lowell : 

" Old Joe is gone, who saw hot Percy goad 

His slow artillery up the Concord road . . . 

Had Joe lived long enough, that scram- 
bling fight 

Had squared more nearly with his sense 
of right, 

And vanquished Percy, to complete the 

Had hammered stone for life in Concord 

6 The Smithsonian Institution 

and who, it might be added, saved to the King the remnant 
of his forces, which, without Percy's timely succor, would have 
been utterly destroyed. As an indication of family traits, it 
may be interesting to note the memorable action of the half- 
brother of Smithson, and his modest description of it. 

General Gage had placed him in command of the camp 
formed at Boston, whence he writes to his father on July 5, 

"As I cannot say this is a business I very much admire, I 
hope it will not be my fate to be ordered up the country. Be 
that as it may, I am resolved cheerfully to do my duty as long 
as ever I continue in the service. If I do not acquire any de- 
gree of reputation in it, it will be my misfortune, but shall 
never be my fault." 

Throughout the ensuing winter he remained in the camp 
around Boston, whence on April 20 he writes to inform his 
father of that first bloodshed which was the prelude of the 
War of the Revolution : 

"I was ordered out yesterday morning to cover the retreat 
of the Grenadiers and Light Infantry who had been sent upon 
an expedition up the country.-^ I had with me my brigade 
and two pieces of cannon. We met them at a town' about 
fifteen miles off, sharply attacked and surrounded by the rebels, 
and having fired away all their ammunition, I had the happi- 
ness of saving them from inevitable destruction, and arriving 
with them at Charlestown, opposite Boston, at eight o'clock 
last night ; not, however, without the loss of a great many, 
havinof been under an incessant fire for fifteen miles. The 
rebels, however, suffered much more than the King's troops. 
I have not myself received even the least scratch, and I beg 
that you will not either of you be uneasy on my account.' 

" 3 

1 The memorable expedition to Concord, which gave rise to the battle of Lexington. 

2 Lexington. 
3 "Annals of the House of Percy," Volume li, page 552. 

James SmitJison 7 

Lord Percy was too good a soldier to fall into the error of 
despising his enemy. He had never shared in that contemp- 
tuous estimate which Englishmen, ignorant of the country and 
its population, had formed of the military capacity of the 
American colonists, and which had led the King, under the 
prompting of such advisers as Lord North and Lord George 
Germain, to declare that all resistance would collapse on the 
first menacing advance of half a dozen English regiments. 

** Whoever," he writes to his father, " looks upon them as 
merely an irregular mob will find himself much mistaken ; 
they have men amongst them who know what they are about, 
having been employed as rangers against the Canadians and 
Indians . . . nor are their men devoid of the spirit of en- 
thusiasm, as we experienced yesterday, for many of them con- 
cealed themselves in houses and advanced within ten yards 
to fire at me and the other officers, though they were morally 
certain of being put to death themselves in an instant." 

The father died in 1 786, and was buried in Westminster 
Abbey, where he is described as "the most high puissant and 
most noble prince Hugh Percy, Duke and Earl of Northum- 
berland, Earl Percy, Baron Warkworth and Lovaine, Lord 
Lieutenant and Gustos Rotulorum of the Gounties of Middle- 
sex and Northumberland and of all America, one of the lords 
of His Majesty's most Honourable and Privy Gouncil and 
Knight of the most noble Order of the Garter, etc., etc., etc." ; 
but we are here concerned with these honors only as an 
evidence of the character of the man who did not inherit, but 
who conquered them by the force of his will. 

Let us, after noting the essential qualities of his race in the 
father and brother, return to the immediate subject of our 
memoir, the date of whose birth is fixed by the Pembroke 
College record as 1765. His mother, Elizabeth Hungerford 

8 The S^nithsonian Institution 

Keate (Macie), is described in the will of Penelope Keate, 
grandmother of Smithson, in a bequest dated July 13, 1764, 
as "my daughter, Elizabeth Macie, of Bath, widow," so that 
at this time her husband was already dead. This fact, only 
recently ascertained, is important in the estimate it leads us 
to put on one of the principal actions of Smithson's life, his 
taking of his father's name instead of that of Macie, by which 
he was previously known. 

Something of the facts of the young man's birth were gen- 
erally surmised, and we shall see that he was apparently not 
allowed as a youth even to describe himself as Macie's son, a 
thing to be remembered in connection with his subsequent 
action in taking the name of Smithson.^ 

There has been found no record of the Macies at Weston 
in the years preceding his birth ; there is no reference to him 
in the accessible archives of the Northumberland family, nor 
do we know more of the subsequent circumstances of his 
mother than that she inherited the property of the Hunger- 
fords of Studley in 1766, on the death of her brother, Lumley 
Hungerford Keate, — a matter of interest as indicating the 
probable source of a considerable portion of the Smithson 

We have after this no knowledge of the founder of the In- 
stitution until his name is entered in 1782 as James Lewis 
Macie, a Gentleman Commoner, at Pembroke College, Ox- 
ford, but entered in a way which, as the copy of the record 
indicates, omitted the prescribed form of stating the name of 
the father, which others were obliged to comply with. 

He was at this time but a lad, and as we are assured only 

lln 1880, when Mr. Rhees's memoir was the married life of Mr. and Mrs. Macie, and 

prepared, the dateofSmithson'sbirth.obtained put a less favorable construction on young 

from an erroneous inscription on his tomb, Macie's action in taking the name of Smithson 

was 1754, which would have placed it eleven from that it bears, under the circumstances 

years earlier than the actual event, during which are now for the first time detailed. 

James Sniithson 9 

very powerful influence could have procured permission for 
this departure from rule, we may presume that his action, 
whether acceptable or not to him, was dictated by an author- 
ity to which he had in any case to yield. 

In 1894 I ascertained through the kindness of Chester 
Waters, Esquire, that Reverend Frederick Brown had 
occupied himself during a large part of his life with the 
biographies of the Hungerford family, and learned from his 
surviving daughter that his manuscript was deposited in the 
British Museum. This manuscript (which is numbered 
33,412), I, with Doctor Cyrus Adler, spent some time in ex- 
amining, with the results here given. Among other facts I 
learned that Smithson was born in France, and was brought 
to England for his education, and naturalized. I further was 
fortunately led to consult the Oxford records, which show that 
he in his early years entered as a Gentleman Commoner at 
Pembroke College, where he matriculated in 1782, his age 
then being given in the registry, here appended,^ as seventeen, 
so that this matriculation record shows him to have been born 
eleven years later than was supposed. This is material, 
for it will be seen from what has preceded that his mem- 
ory is thus cleared of the imputation under which it at one 

1 Coll: Exon : 25° Carolus Ofspring Blackall 17 Theophili de Dodbrooke 

Com : Danmon : 

Cler: Fil: 

Coll: Wad: 26" Robertus Harbin 17 Swayne de Newton Com: Somerset: Arm: Fil: 
Mali 1° 

Coll: Hert : Gulielmus Bragge 17 Joannis de Dillington Com : Somerset: Arm: Fil: 

Coll : Wadh : 2^1° Joannes Higgins 19 Joannis de Dicheatt Com : Somerset : Gen : Fil : 

Coll : Mert : 3? Henricus Lloyd 18 Erasmi de Civitate Vigorniensi Gen : Fil : 

Coll: Di. Jo. Bap. 4? Thomas Keck 17 Samuelis de Civitate Londin : Gen: Fil: 

changed to Smithson 

Coll: Pemb : 7" Jacobus Ludovicus Macie 17 de Civit : Londin: — Arm: Fil: 

Coll: Ball: 8? Hon. Archibaldus Cathcart 18 Carolide Aloa Com: Clackmanan: Baro! Fil 

Coll: Di : Jo: Bap. 9? Thomas Dethick 17 Thomae de Bombay apud Ind : Orient: 
Arm : Fil 

Coll: On: Nas: io™° Arthurus Townson 18 Joannis de Ben tham Com : Eboracensi 

Pleb: Fil 

Coll: Christi \o'^° Calverley Joannes Bewicke 17 Benjamin de Clapham Com: Surriae 
Gen : Fil : 

Coll: Magd: 11° Isaacus Williamson 21 Josephi de Withburn Com : Cambr : Gen: Fil: 

lo The Sinithsoniaji Institution 

time seemed to rest, of his having adopted the name of 
Smithson in circumstances where a son should have re- 
mained silent. 

We have also an authentic contemporary portrait of him in 
the dress of an Oxford student, here reproduced, which, it is 
interesting to observe, confirms the age thus given, by repre- 
senting him as a mere youth. 

Nothing material is remembered of his life at the college, 
except a tradition that he was the best chemist and miner- 
alogist of his year, though in his journal, when but a youth 
of nineteen, he gives a description of a geological tour in 
1784 through Oban, Staffa, and the western islands, in com- 
pany with De St. Fond, "the celebrated French philosopher," 
and the Italian Count Andrioni, in which he carried on ob- 
servations on the methods of mining and manufacturing pro- 
cesses, made with all the minuteness which the conditions of 
the journey permitted. The journal indicates that the tour at 
that time was undertaken, if not at any considerable risk, yet 
not without a considerable amount of privation and self- 
denial, such as would not be met by the modern traveler, and 
shows that he was far more occupied with science than with 
the ordinary pleasures of so youthful a tourist. We learn 
also that the young student was noted for diligence, applica- 
tion, and good scholarship, attracting attention by his pro- 
ficiency in chemistry, then a novel study, while his vacations 
were ordinarily passed in such excursions as that just referred 
to, and devoted to the collection of minerals and ores, which 
it was his favorite occupation to analyze. At Oxford, then, 
at a time when the study of physical science was almost 
unknown in the University, he appears to have already 
conceived that devotion to scientific research which charac- 
terized all his future life. 

He was graduated at Pembroke College, with the degree 

James SmitJison ii 

of Master of Arts, on May 26, 1786, as James Lewis Macie, 
and admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society on April 26, 
1787, on the following- recommendation: 

"James Lewis Macie, Esq., M.A., late of Pembroke College, 
Oxford, and now of John Street, Golden Square, — a gentle- 
man well versed in various branches of Natural Philosophy, 
and particularly in Chymistry and Mineralogy, being desirous 
of becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society, we whose names 
are hereunto subscribed do, from our personal knowledge of 
his merit, judge him highly worthy of that honour and likely 
to become a very useful and valuable Member. 

Richard Kirwan, 
C. F. Greville, 
C. Blagden, 
H. Cavendish, 
David Pitcairn." 

Cavendish, whose name appears here, was the eminent 
physicist, and, as we learn elsewhere, was an intimate friend. 

Smithson's lodgings were for some time in Bentinck Street, 
where Gibbon wrote much of his "Decline and Fall of the 
Roman Empire." Here he apparently prepared his first 
scientific paper, which was signed James Lewis Macie, and 
was read on July 7, 1791, before the Royal Society. It 
is entitled "An ^Account of Some Chemical Experiments on 
Tabasheer."^ We learn of him incidentally in 1792 as jour- 
neying from Geneva to Italy through the Tyrol, and find him 
in the same year in Paris writing from the Hotel du Pare 
Royal, Rue de Colombier, a letter in which he expresses 
sentiments which represented what would have been then 
called advanced Jacobinism. " pz ira,'' he says, "is grow- 
ing the song of England, of Europe, as well as of France. 

1 Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of Londott Volume LXXXI, part II, page 368. 

12 The Smithsonian histihition 

Men of every rank are joining in the chorus. Stupidity and 
guih have had a long reign, and it begins, indeed, to be time 
for justice and common-sense to have their turn . . . the 
office of king is not yet aboHshed, but they daily feel the 
inutility, or rather great inconvenience, of continuing it, and 
its duration will probably not be long. May other nations, 
at the time of their reforms, be wise enough to cast off, at 
first, the contemptible incumbrance." Smithson here shares 
the opinion of a large and influential portion of Englishmen 
of the time in which he wrote, but the excesses of the French 
Revolution, which immediately followed, caused a general 
revulsion of feeling, and it would not be fair to argue from 
this youthful expression as to his maturer judgment. 

The date of his application to the Crown for permission to 
take his father's name has not been ascertained, but in the 
will of his half-sister, Dorothy Percy, he is referred to as 
"Macie" in 1794 (eight years after his father's death). The 
name of Smithson is first certainly known to have been used 
by him in connection with his second communication to the 
Royal Society, "A Chemical Analysis of Some Calamines,^ 
by James Smithson, Esquire," read November 18, 1802. 

In this paper the author remarks that " Chemistry is yet so 
new a science ; what we know of it bears so small a propor- 
tion of what we are ignorant of; our knowledge in every de- 
partment of it is so incomplete, consisting entirely of isolated 
points, thinly scattered, like lurid specks on a vast field of 
darkness, that no researches can be undertaken without pro- 
ducing some facts leading to consequences which extend 
beyond the boundaries of their immediate object." 

The Abbe Haiiy had advanced the opinion that calamines 
were all mere oxides or "calces" of zinc. Smithson's analy- 
sis completely overthrew this opinion, and established these 

1 Philosophical Transactions, Volume XCIII, page 12. 

James Srnithson 13 

minerals in the rank of true carbonates, while his remarks on 
the action of the ores of zinc before the blowpipe evince much 
discernment ; and the paper, on the whole, is altogether a 
creditable one.j 

At this period he seems to have ceased his contributions 
to the Royal Society, and later we find his name more 
frequently in the "Annals of Philosophy," a journal of high 
character, where there is a communication from him dated 
Paris, May 22, 1819, on " Plombe gomme," and about the 
same time a paper on a native sulphuret of lead and arsenic, 
with numerous other papers, among which is one in 1822, 
"On the Detection of Very Minute Quantities of Arsenic and 
Mercury," where he contributed a method which was gener- 
ally used by chemists until quite modern tests superseded it. 
The papers^ in all number twenty-seven, of which eight 
here cited were published in the " Philosophical Transac- 
tions of the Royal Society," between the years 1791 and 1807, 
one in the "Philosophical Magazine" in 1807, and eighteen 
in "Thomson's Annals of Philosophy," between 1 819 and 1825, 
and these all give the idea of an assiduous and faithful 
experimenter, an impression enlarged by the last one of 
the series, bearing date of June, 1824, which contains some 
observations on the formation of the Kirkdale Cave, forcibly 

1 Smithson's subsequent communications " On a Saline Substance from Mount Ve- 
to the Philosophical Transactions are six in suvius," 1813. (Volume cm, page 256.) 
number : " A few Facts relative to the Coloring Mat- 

"An Account of a Discovery of Native ter of Some Vegetables," 1817. (Volume 

Minium," submitted in a letter dated from cvili, page no.) 

Cassel, in Hesse, March 2, 1806. (Volume A paper by him " On Quadruple and Bi- 

XCVI, part I, page 267. ) nary Compounds, particularly Sulphurets," 

" On the Composition of the Compound was also published in the " Philosophical 

Sulphuret from Huel Boys, and an Account Magazine," 1807. (Volume xxix, page 275,) 

of its Crystals," 1808. (Volume xcviii,page 2 These papers were collected and edited 

55- ) by William J. Rhees, and are contained in 

"On the Composition of Zeolite," l8ll. Volume xxi of the "Smithsonian Miscella- 

(Volume CI, page 171.) neous Collections," under the title of " The 

" On a Substance from the Elm Tree, called Scientific Writings of James Srnithson" 

Ulmin," 1813. (Volume cm, page 64.) (1879). 

14 7 he Smithsonian Institutio7i 

combating (with what was then originaHty) the theories of 
the time, which referred the bones there found to " The 

" The most notable feature of Smithson's writings, from the 
standpoint of the modern analytical chemist," says Professor 
Clarke,^ "is the success obtained with the most primitive and 
unsatisfactory appliances. In Smithson's day, chemical ap- 
paratus was undeveloped, and instruments were improvised 
from such materials as lay readiest to hand. With such 
instruments, and with crude reagents, Smithson obtained 
analytical results of the most creditable character, and en- 
larged our knowledge of many mineral species. In his time 
the native carbonate and silicate of zinc were confounded as 
one species under the name 'calamine'; but his researches 
distinguish between the two minerals, which are now known 
as Smithsonite and calamine respectively. 

" To theory Smithson contributed little, if anything ; but 
from a theoretical point of view the tone of his writings is sin- 
gularly modern. His work was mostly done before Dalton 
had announced the atomic theory, and yet Smithson saw 
clearly that a law of definite proportions must exist, although 
he did not attempt to account for it. His ability as a rea- 
soner is best shown in his paper upon the Kirkdale bone 
cave, which Penn had sought to interpret by reference to the 
Noachian deluge. A clearer and more complete demolition 
of Penn's views could hardly be written to-day. Smithson 
was gentle with his adversary, but none the less thorough for 
all his moderation. He is not to be classed among the lead- 
ers of scientific thought ; but his ability, and the usefulness of 
his contributions to knowledge, cannot be doubted." 

The President of the Royal Society, in a necrology for the 
year 1829, associated the name of Smithson with those of 

1 Communication from Professor Frank W. Clarke, Chief Chemist, United States 

Geological Survey. 

James Smithson 15 

Wollaston, Young, and Davy, saying that "he was distin- 
guished by the intimate friendship of Mr. Cavendish, and 
rivaled our most expert chemists in elegant analyses " ; while 
at the annual meeting of the Royal Society held on Novem- 
ber 30, 1830, the President, Davies Gilbert, after referring to 
other members recently deceased, said : 

" The only remaining individual who has taken a direct 
and active part in our labours, by contributing to the ' Trans- 
actions,' is Mr. James Lewis Smithson, and of this gentleman 
I must be allowed to speak with affection. We were at 
Oxford together, of the same college, and our acquaintance 
continued to the time of his decease. 

" Mr. Smithson, then called Macie, and an undergraduate, 
had the reputation of excelling all other resident members of 
the University in the knowledge of chemistry. He was early 
honored by an intimate acquaintance with Mr. Cavendish ; he 
was admitted to the Royal Society, and soon after presented 
a paper on the very curious concretion frequently found in the 
hollow of bambu canes, named Tabasheer. This he found to 
consist almost entirely of silex, existing in a manner similar 
to what Davy long afterwards discovered in the epidermis of 
reeds and grasses. 

" He was the friend of Dr. Wollaston, and at the same 
time his rival in the manipulation and analysis of small quan- 
tities. 'AYctGy] §' l[AQ -?]§£ ppoTolai. 

" For many years past Mr. Smithson has resided abroad, 
principally, I believe, on account of his health ; but he carried 
with him the esteem and regard of various private friends, 
and of a still larger number of persons who appreciated and 
admired his acquirements." 

His writings exhibit clearness of perception, terseness of 
language, and accuracy of expression. He was an intimate 
friend of Cavendish, and later of Arago ; he was a corre- 
spondent of Black, of Banks, of Thomson, and of most of the 

1 6 The Smithsonian Instittttion 

names then renowned to science, and he himself contributed 
in those early days honorably to the enlargement of those 
" lurid specks in the vast field of darkness," of which he spoke, 
towards the coming light. 

His industry was the more creditable to him in that he was 
at this time a man of large means, with every temptation to 
devote himself to amusement, and this industry will be seen 
to be still greater when it is remembered that these pub- 
lished papers are but a small portion of his writings ; for 200 
manuscripts were forwarded to the United States with his 
effects, and, besides these, thousands of detached notes and 

Unhappily, with the exception of one small volume, of all 
these nothing remains, the whole of the originals having been 
destroyed in the disastrous fire at the Institution in 1865, just 
one hundred years from the date of his birth. We know 
something of these manuscripts from the paper by Mr. John- 
son, who had access to them before the formation of the Insti- 
tution, and from it we learn that they are connected not only 
with science, but with history, the arts, language, rural pur- 
suits, gardening, the construction of buildings, and kindred 
topics, "such as are likely to occupy the thoughts and to 
constitute the reading of a gentleman of extensive acquire- 
ments and liberal views derived from a lone and intimate 
acquaintance with the world," while his cabinet, which was 
also destroyed by the fire, is described as consisting of a 
choice collection of minerals, comprising probably eight or 
ten thousand specimens, in exceedingly perfect condition, in- 
cluding examples of most of the meteorites which had fallen 
in Europe during several centuries, and forming what was at 
the time very much the richest and rarest collection in the 
United States. 

If, then, we ask whether Smithson had such a competent 



.11 con LI 
ment of those 
which he spoke, 


ill be seen 
;1tp TTnited States wi 


^'"^'■■' in 186 J, j^.^L 
We know 

:nt!e]: re- 

in ti mate 




1 8 The Smithsonian Institiitio7i 

health, whose Hfe, save a few hours given to repose, was 
regularly divided between the most interesting scientific re- 
searches and gaming. It was a source of great regret to me 
that this learned experimentalist should devote the half of 
so valuable a life to a course so little in harmony with an intel- 
lect whose wonderful powers called forth the admiration of the 
world around him. Unfortunately there occurred fluctuations 
of loss and gain, momentarily balancing each other, which led 
him to conclude that the advantages enjoyed by the bank 
were neither so assured nor considerable as to preclude his 
winning largely through a run of luck. The analytical for- 
mulas of probabilities offering a radical means, the only one 
perhaps of dissipating this illusion, I proposed, the number 
of the games and the stakes being given, to determine in ad- 
vance, in my study, the amount, not merely of the loss of a 
day, nor that of a week, but of each quarter. The calculation 
was found so regularly to agree with the corresponding dim- 
inution of the bank-notes in the foreigner's pocketbook that 
a doubt could no longer be entertained." 

I owe to Doctor B. A. Gould the interesting statement that 
Arago was not merely an acquaintance, but an intimate friend 
of Smithson, and that Arago personally told him that "the 
distinguished foreigner " in question was Smithson himself, 
and added that Smithson resolved, not to absolutely discon- 
tinue play (in which he found the only stimulus which could 
make him forget his physical suffering), but to do so with a 
care that the expenditure for this purpose was a definite one, 
and within his means. 

We see him next entering the confines of old age, approach- 
ing the task (with such enfeebled health, a solemn one) of 
making his last will, and looking back upon a life which his 
circumstances have made lonely, which has been uncheered by 
domestic affection, and which, though filled with honorable 
activities, has not brought the fame to which he once aspired 

James Smithson 19 

with the hope that it would bring some compensation for the 
accident of birth. 

The most important act of his Hfe was the execution of this 
will, a copy of which follows : 


" I James Smithson Son to Hugh, first Duke of Northumber- 
land, & Elizabeth, Heiress of the Hungerfords of Studley, 
& Niece to Charles the proud Duke of Somerset, now 
residing in Bentinck Street, Cavendish Square, do this 
twenty-third day of October, one thousand eight hundred 
and twenty-six, make this my last Will and Testament: 

"I bequeath the whole of my property of every nature & 
kind soever to my bankers, Messrs. Drummonds of Charing 
Cross, in trust, to be disposed of in the following manner, and 
I desire of my said Executors to put my property under the 
management of the Court of Chancery. 

"To John Fitall, formerly my Servant, but now employed 
in the London Docks, and residing at No. 27, Jubilee Place, 
North Mile end, old town, in consideration of his attach- 
ment & fidelity to me, & the long & great care he has taken 
of my effects, & my having done but very little for him, I 
give and bequeath the Annuity or annual sum of One hundred 
pounds sterling for his life, to be paid to him quarterly, free 
of legacy duty & all other deductions, the first payment to be 
made to him at the expiration of three months after my death. 
I have at divers times lent sums of money to Henry Honore 
Sailly, formerly my Servant, but now keeping the Hunger- 
ford Hotel, in the rue Caumartin at Paris, & for which sums 
of money I have undated bills or bonds signed by him. Now, 
I will & direct that if he desires it, these sums of money be 
let remain in his hands at an Interest of five per cent, for five 
years after the date of the present Will. 

"To Henry James Hungerford, my Nephew, heretofore 
called Henry James Dickinson, son to ni)- late brother, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Louis Dickinson, now residing 

20 The Smithsonian Institution 

with Mr. Auboin, at Bourg la Reine, near Paris, I give and 
bequeath for his life the whole of the income arising from my 
property of every nature & kind whatever, after the payment 
of the above Annuity, & after the death of John Fitall, that 
Annuity likewise, the payments to be made to him at the time 
of the interest or dividends becomes due on the Stocks or 
other property from which the income arises. 

"Should the said Henry James Hungerford have a child or 
children, legitimate or illegitimate, I leave to such child or 
children, his or their heirs, executors, & assigns, after the 
death of his, or her, or their Father, the whole of my property 
of every kind absolutely & forever, to be divided between 
them, if there is more than one, in the manner their father 
shall judge proper, or, in case of his omitting to decide this, 
as the Lord Chancellor shall judge proper. 

"Should my said Nephew, Henry James Hungerford, 
marry, I empower him to make a jointure. 

" In the case of the death of my said Nephew without leav- 
ing a child or children, or the death of the child or children he 
may have had under the age of twenty-one years or intestate, 
I then bequeath the whole of my property, subject to the 
Annuity of One hundred pounds to John Fitall, & for the 
security & payment of which I mean Stock to remain in this 
Country, to the United States of America, to found at Wash- 
ington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an 
Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge 
among men. 

"I think it proper here to state, that all the money which 

will be standing in the French five per cents, at my death 

in the names of the father of my above mentioned Nephew, 

Henry James Hungerford, & all that in my names, is the 

property of my said Nephew, being what he inherited from 

his father, or what I have laid up for him from the savings 

upon his income. t o r t » 

^ James Smithson. [l. s.] 

We see that he begins by recalling the parentage which 
had denied him the name of his father and the position in the 

James Sniithsoit 21 

world he believed should have been his, and, in the void 
places of father, brother, or family, he seems to look for some 
object of affection, and to find only an old servant (whom he 
remembers with thoughtful liberality) and a nephew, to whom 
he bequeaths his property. He has provided for the continu- 
ance of the property to any possible heir to this nephew, and 
there seems to remain nothing more. 

But there must have remained, in the retrospect of such a 
life as his, a sense of failure of that purpose with which he 
entered it, when he hoped, with youthful ambition, to create 
a greater name than that which birth had denied him, and 
when he wrote, *' My name shall live in the memory of man 
when the titles of the Northumberlands and the Percys are 
extinct and forgotten," and there must have come up on such 
an occasion the question whether this was, indeed, the end of 
hope and the time only for renunciation. 

We see that he has not utterly renounced this hope even 
now ; but it is so faint that he writes between a clause which 
concerns a legacy to a servant and one which concerns an 
investment in the funds, and, as it were, almost casually, the 
words which have perpetuated his name. 

Probably no man ever made a more remunerative invest- 
ment in the direction in which he would like best to see a 
return than was brought out by these words of Smithson, 
for we now all know that his bequest, when accepted by the 
United States Government, formed the initial step in the 
creation of an institution whose position has been altogether 
exceptional, for it is likely to remain without successor, as 
without precedent, in perpetuating, as it does, the fame 
of a private individual, whose wishes have been adopted 
and carried into effect by a great nation, which has con- 
sented to take the position of a guardian to a ward in the 
care of his property, and which has subsequently made his 

22 The Smithsonian Instihition 

private fortune the nucleus to which have been added ap- 
propriations for objects of national importance, yet appro- 
priations which are still administered in association with 
his name. 

The will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canter- 
bury, the value of the effects being sworn to be under ^120,- 
000. The property disposed of by it is believed to have been 
received chiefly from Colonel Henry Louis Dickinson, a son 
of his mother by a former marriage, though he is known 
to have received a legacy of ^3,000 from Dorothy Percy, his 
half-sister on his father's side; but, unless through this, it is 
proper to state that there is no indication that any portion 
whatever of the Smithson bequest was derived from the 
Northumberland family. 

The motives which actuated Smithson in mentioning the 
United States as his residuary legatee, rather than any other 
government or institution, must remain in doubt, for he is not 
known to have had any correspondent in America, nor are 
there in any of his papers any reference to it or its distin- 
guished men. In selecting the nation itself as the depository 
of his trust, he yet certainly testified his confidence in its in- 
stitutions and his faith in their perpetuity, while it has not 
escaped attention that he uses language in the determining 
clause of his will remarkably similar to that already employed 
by Washington, who in his farewell address, says: "Promote, 
as an object of primary importance, institutions for the gen- 
eral diffusion of knowledge." 

Smithson died June 27, 1829, at Genoa, Italy. He is 
buried in the little English cemetery on the heights of San 
Benigno, in a tomb which originally bore no reference to him 
as the founder of this Institution ; but the Institution has re- 
cently placed a tablet there remedying this omission, has sur- 
rounded the tomb with evidence of continued care, and has 

James Smithson 23 

placed in still further remembrance a similar tablet in the 
English church of the city. 

Smithson's wishes have been carried out by those im- 
mediately administering them with a constant scrupulous 
thought of the intent of the founder, while in doing this the 
best results have flowed from a ritrid construction of his own 
words, so briefly expressed, and from a division of the activi- 
ties of the Institution into two great distinct but parallel 
paths, the "increase" and "diffusion" of knowledge. 

What has been done in these two paths the reader may 
partly gather from this volume — in the former, from the va- 
rious articles by contemporary men of science, describing its ac- 
tivities in research and original contributions to the increase of 
human knowledge; in the latter, in numerous ways, — among 
others, from the description of the work of one of its bureaux, 
that of the International Exchanges, where it may be more 
immediately seen how universal is the scope of the action of 
the Institution, which, in accordance with its motto, PER 
ORBEM, is not limited to the country of its adoption, but 
belongs to the world, there being outside of the United States, 
at the time I write, more than 12,000 correspondents, scat- 
tered through every portion of the globe ; indeed, there is 
hardly a language or a people where the results of Smithson's 
benefaction are not known and associated with his name. 

If we were permitted to think of him as conscious of what 
has been, is being, and is still to be done, in pursuance of his 
wish, we might believe that he would feel that his hope, at a 
time when life must have seemed so hopeless, was finding full 
fruition ; for events are justifying what may have seemed at 
the time but a rhetorical expression, in the language of 
a former President of the United States, who has said, 
" Renowned as is the name of Percy in the historical annals 
of England, ... let the trust of James Smithson to the 


The Smithsonian Institution 

United States of America be faithfully executed, ... let the 
result accomplish his object, the increase and diffusion of 
knowledge among men, and a wreath more unfading shall en- 
twine itself, in the lapse of future ages, around the name of 
Smithson than the united hands of history and poetry have 
braided around the name of Percy through the long ages 

The principal sources of information for 
this chapter have been as follows : 

1. Gentlematis Magazine for March, 1830, 
page 275. 

2. The documentary evidence which, 
though meager, may be found in the report 
of Richard Rush to the Department of State, 
in 1838. 

3. The manuscripts and diary of Smithson, 
which are described as comprising about two 
hundred titles, besides numberless notes of an 
encyclopaedical character, " such as are likely 
to occupy the thoughts of a gentleman of 
extensive acquirements and liberal views," 
These manuscripts were destroyed by the fire 
of 1865, but not until extended extracts had 
been made from them by Walter R. Johnson, 
a member of the National Institute of Wash- 
ington, in whose possession the papers and 
books of Smithson remained until the forma- 
tion of the Institution. The paper by John- 

son will be found in Volume xxi of the 
" Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections," 
and these lost papers are the original sources 
of some statements made here which can no 
longer be verified by comparison with the 

4. These sources are not only contained 
in, but are largely supplemented by, the ex- 
cellent memoir on " James Smithson and his 
Bequest," by Mr. William J. Rhees, form- 
ing part of Volume xxi of the " Smithsonian 
Miscellaneous Collections," without which 
the biography of Smithson can hardly be 
written, and from which the writer has here 
frequently quoted textually, without other 
acknowledgment than this general and ex- 
plicit one. 

5. Another source of information is the re- 
searches made by the writer with the aid of 
Doctor Cyrus Adler, Librarian of the Smith- 
sonian Institution, in England, in 1894. 


1 835- 1 846 

By George Brown Goode 

"/HEN Smithson died in Genoa in 1829 his 
estate became the property of his brother's 
son, Henry James Hungerford, then about 
twenty-three years of age, who was privi- 
leged to enjoy its income during his own life- 
time, and to whose heirs it was to pass at his death. Hun- 
gerford, then known as the Baron Eunice de la Batut, died 
in Pisa, June 5, 1835, unmarried and without heirs. 

There was now no one to contest the claim of the United 
States to the estate except his mother, Madame de la Batut, 
who declared herself to be satisfied by the granting of a small 
annuity payable during her own lifetime. 

The fact of the Smithson bequest first became known in 
this country in September, 1835, when there was received at 
the State Department a letter from Aaron Vail, charge d'af- 
faires of the United States in London, transmitting a copy of 
the will, tOQfether with certain information obtained from 
Smithson's solicitors in London.^ 

1 For the letter of these gentlemen, — and the full text of all documents referred to 
Messrs. Clarke, Fynmore, and Fladgate, — in this chapter, see " The Smithsonian Institu- 


2 6 The Smithsonian Instihition 

The proposed gift of Smithson was first publicly announced 
by President Jackson in a message to Congress, dated De- 
cember 17, 1835. 

The President's message was referred in the Senate to the 
Committee on the Judiciary, which promptly reported in favor 
of accepting the legacy. Its recommendations were strongly 
antagonized by Senators Calhoun and Preston, of South 
Carolina, who, from their customary standpoint of opposition 
to centralization, maintained that Congress had no power to 
accept the gift, and that it would be beneath the dignity of 
the Nation to receive benefits from a foreio^ner. Senator 
Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, and Senator Leigh, of Vir- 
ginia, took strong ground on the other side, and their counsel 
finally prevailed after the report had lain upon the table 
for several months. 

In the House of Representatives the announcement was 
received with more generous appreciation, and the message 
was referred to a select committee, of which John Quincy 
Adams was made chairman. The venerable statesman, now, 
ten years after his retirement from the presidency, a Repre- 
sentative in Congress from Massachusetts, at once took the 
measure under his protection. His mind seized with almost 
prophetic grasp upon the advances which the gift of Smithson 
made possible, and the arguments so eloquently presented in 
his report of January 19, 1836, no doubt did much to deter- 
mine Congress upon the decision that the gift should be 
accepted : 

" Of all the foundations of establishments for pious or char- 
itable uses which ever signalized the spirit of the age or the 
comprehensive beneficence of the founder, none can be named 

lion: Documents relative to its Origin and archives of the Institution and of the govern- 

History," edited by W. J. Rhees, Washing- nient, provided with an excellent analytical 

ton, 1879, 8vo, pages i-xiv, 1-1013, a most index. It also contains an abstract from the 

careful and exhaustive compilation from the diary of John Quincy Adams. 

Foundiug of the Ijistihttion 2 7 

more deserving of the approbation of mankind than this. 
Should it be faithfully carried into effect, with an earnestness 
and sagacity of application and a steady perseverance of pur- 
suit proportioned to the means furnished by the will of the 
founder and to the greatness and simplicity of his design as 
by himself declared, 'the increase and diffusion of knowledge 
among men,' it is no extravagance of anticipation to declare 
that his name will hereafter be enrolled among the eminent 
benefactors of mankind. 

"The attainment of knowledge is the high and exclusive 
attribute of man, among the numberless myriads of animated 
beings inhabitants of the terrestrial globe. On him alone is 
bestowed, by the bounty of the Creator of the universe, the 
power and the capacity of acquiring knowledge. Knowledge 
is the attribute of his nature which at once enables him to 
improve his condition upon earth, and to prepare him for the 
enjoyment of a happier existence hereafter. It is by this at- 
tribute that man discovers his own nature as the link between 
earth and heaven ; as the partaker of an immortal spirit ; as 
created for a hisfher and more durable end than the count- 
less tribes of beings which people the earth, the ocean, and 
the air, alternately instinct with life, and melting into vapor 
or mouldering into dust. 

"To furnish the means of acquiring knowledge is, there- 
fore, the greatest benefife^ that can be conferred upon mankind. 
It prolongs life itself and enlarges the sphere of existence. 
The earth was given to man for cultivation, for the improve- 
ment of his own condition. Whoever increases his know- 
ledge multiplies the uses to which he is enabled to turn the 
gift of his Creator to his own benefit, and partakes in some 
degree of that goodness which is the highest attribute of 
Omnipotence itself 

"If, then, the Smithsonian Institution, under the smile of 
an approving Providence and by the faithful and permanent 
application of the means furnished by its founder to the pur- 
pose for which he has bestowed them, should prove effective 
to their promotion, if they should contribute essentially to 
the increase and diffusion of knoiulcdge anio?ig men, to what 

2 8 The Smithsonian Institution 

higher or nobler object could this generous and splendid 
donation have been devoted? 

" In the commission of every trust there is an implied 
tribute of the soul to the integrity and intelligence of the 
trustee ; and there is also an implied call for the faithful ex- 
ercise of those properties to the fulfilment of the purpose of 
the trust. The tribute and the call acquire additional force 
and energy when the trust is committed for performance after 
the decease of him by whom it is granted, when he no longer 
exists to witness or to constrain the effective fulfilment of his 
design. The magnitude of the trust and the extent of con- 
fidence bestowed in the committal of it do but enlarge and 
aggravate the pressure of the obligation which it carries with 
it. The weight of duty imposed is proportioned to the honor 
conferred by confidence without reserve. Your committee 
are fully persuaded, therefore, that, with a grateful sense of 
the honor conferred by the testator upon the political institu- 
tions of this Union, the Congress of the United States, in ac- 
cepting the bequest will feel in all its power and plenitude 
the obligation of responding to the confidence reposed by 
him with all the fidelity, disinterestedness, and perseverance 
of exertion which may carry into effective execution the 
noble purpose of an endowment for the increase and diffusion 
of knowledge among men." 

After much debate a bill was passed to authorize and en- 
able the President to assert and prosecute the claim of the 
United States to the legacy bequeathed by James Smithson, 
and pledging the faith of the United States to the application 
of the bequest to the purpose of founding an institute in 
Washinofton under the name of the Smithsonian Institution 
— an establishment for the increase and diff"usion of know- 
ledge among men. 

On the first of July, 1836, this bill became a law through 
the approval of the President, who at once appointed an 
agent to prosecute the claim. The man selected was Richard 

Founding of the Instihition 29 

Rush, of Pennsylvania, a lawyer of high standing, who had 
been Attorney-General of the United States, Secretary of the 
Treasury, and a candidate for the office of Vice-President. 
He had also been Minister to France and to England, and 
his official residence of eight years at the Court of Saint 
James fitted him admirably for the mission which he now 
undertook. He proceeded at once to London, entered a 
friendly suit in the Courts of Chancery in the name of the 
President of the United States, and, notwithstanding there 
were eight hundred cases ahead of this, he obtained a favora- 
ble decision in less than two years, an event without example 
in the annals of chancery, for the English lawyers them- 
selves admitted that a chancery suit was a thing which might 
begin with a man's life, and its termination be his epitaph. 

The success of Mr. Rush was due in a large degree to the 
extreme friendliness and consideration manifested by the Brit- 
ish law officers from the Attorney- General down, without 
which it would have been scarcely possible for him to have 
accomplished in so short a period what in the ordinary course 
of events would at that time have required twenty or thirty 
years. His skill in the conduct of the case also counted for 
much, the American Minister testifying that no litigant ever 
displayed a more ardent zeal, or a more sagacious, devoted, 
and unremitting diligence, in the prosecution of a suit. 

A still more potent influence, however, must have been his 
own enthusiasm for the work in which he was engaged, an 
enthusiasm which he succeeded in imparting to all with 
whoni he came in contact. "A suit of higher interest and 
dignity," he wrote, " has rarely, perhaps, been before the tri- 
bunals of a nation. If the trust created by the testator's will 
be successfully carried into effect by the enlightened legisla- 
tion of Congress, benefits may flow to the United States and 
to the human family not easy to be estimated, because oper- 

30 The Sinithsonian Ijistitittion 

ating silently and gradually throughout time, yet operating 
not the less effectually. Not to speak of the inappreciable 
value of letters to individual and social man, the monuments 
which they raise to a nation's glory often last when others 
perish, and seem especially appropriate to the glory of a 
republic whose foundations are laid in the presumed intelli- 
gence of its citizens, and can only be strengthened and 
perpetuated as that improves."^ 

On May 9, 1838, a decree of the Court of Chancery 
was solemnly pronounced, adjudging the Smithson bequest 
to the United States, and the estate was immediately trans- 
ferred to Mr. Rush, who took passage for America in the 
packet ship Mediator; which sailed from London July 17, 
and reached New York August 29, 1838. 

The various securities were converted into gold sovereigns 
for convenience of transportation, and these were packed at 
the Bank of England in one hundred and five bags, each 
containing 1000 sovereigns, except one which contained 960 
sovereigns and certain change which Mr. Rush minutely 
records as amounting to " eight shillings and sevenpence 
wrapped in paper," a minuteness somewhat entertaining, since 
in another place he records with equal minuteness that he 
delivered eight shillings and sixpence at the Mint. 

The money was deposited with the Bank of America until 
September i, when Mr. Rush, accompanied by two agents 
of the Bank, took stage for Philadelphia, and on the same 
day delivered his charge to the Director and Treasurer of 
the United States Mint. The contents of the bags, ^^104,- 
960, 8s., 6d., was found to be the equivalent of $508,318.46, 
which was the amount for which Mr. Rush obtained a receipt. 

1 Letter to the Honorable John Forsyth, England, see Rhees, "The Smithsonian 

Secretary of State, dated London, May 12, Institution : Documents relative to its 

1838. For all the correspondence and other Origin and History"; Washington, 1879, 

documents relating to Rush's mission to pages 3-122. 

Founding of the Institution 31 

The sum was subsequently increased by the repayment of 
certain amounts expended in the prosecution of the claim, 
freights, insurances, etc., so that the original trust amounted 
in all to ^106,374, 9s., yd., or $515,169. The sum of 
;!^50i5 sterling which was held back during the lifetime of 
Madame de la Batut, after her death, in 1862, was added to 
the fund, and in February, 1867, the Board of Regents was 
informed that the amount of the Smithsonian Fund in the 
Treasury had been increased to $550,000.^ 

As soon as the trust fund reached the United States, in 
1838, it was invested by the Secretary of the Treasury in 
stocks of States, chiefly in 500 bonds of the State of 
Arkansas for $1000 each, bearing six per cent, interest.^ 
The State of Arkansas having failed to pay its interest 
in 1846, Congress made good the deficiency from the 
public funds, as in duty bound by the pledge given in the 
bill approved July i, 1836, and has ever since paid interest 
at six per cent, on the sum of $538,000, which was the total 
amount at that time invested in Arkansas securities. 

Shortly after the convening of Congress in 1838, President 
Van Buren, in a message dated December 6, informed both 
Houses that the legacyhad been received and invested, and 
invited their attention to the obligation devolving upon the 
United States to fulfil the object of the bequest. His mes- 
sage was accompanied by several letters from " persons 
versed in science and in matters relating to education," who 
had been invited by the President to communicate their 
views to aid his judgment in presenting the subject to 

Eight years passed by before a definite plan of organiza- 

IRhees^ loc. cit., page 133. tion of the President, to invest all the money 

2 This was done in accordance with the arising from the bequest of Smithson in stocks 

Act, approved July 7, 1838, directing the of States. This Act was repealed September 

Secretary of the Treasury, with the approba- il, 1841, through the agency of Mr. Adams. 

32 The Smithsonian Instihttion 

tion was determined upon, although at each session of Con- 
gress the President urged prompt action. Though at the 
time the delay seemed irksome, no one can doubt that it was 
in the end advantageous. At first the importance of the 
occasion was not fully appreciated, and the projects pre- 
sented were limited in scope. Suggestions were offered by 
a large number of persons, and almost every suggestion was 
embodied in one or more of the bills which were brought up 
for discussion during this formative period. The broad and 
liberal plan at last adopted was the result of a process of 
selection by which unworthy features were thrown out, and 
only those retained which commended themselves to the 
wisdom of an intelligent majority. 

When the subject was first considered in the Senate, it 
seems to have been generally believed that the intention of 
the testator was to establish a university, and this was the 
preference of those to whom, in July, 1838, the Secretary of 
State, by direction of the President, addressed letters asking 
advice in regard to the proper application of the bequest.^ 
Seven communications elicited by this invitation were under 
consideration in 1838, and of these, five favored a school 
corresponding to what would now be called a postgraduate 
university. Doctor Wayland suggested an institution which 
should occupy "the space between the close of a collegiate 
education and a professional school"; Doctor Cooper, "an 
institution of the character of a university," open only to 
graduates of other colleges; and President Chapin, of Colum- 
bian University, "an institution for liberal and professional 
purposes and for the promotion of original investigations — 
to carry through a range of studies much above those of the 
ordinary collegiate course." Professor Dunglison, of the Uni- 

1 The persons addressed were the Honor- of South Carolina ; the Honorable Richard 
able John Quincy Adams, ex-President; Rush; Doctor Francis Wayland, President 
Thomas Cooper, M. D., of the University of Brown University; and others. 

Founding of the Institutmi ZZ 

versity of Virginia, advocated " a central school of natural 
science," where natural philosophy, chemistry, geology, miner- 
alogy, philosophy, and all other sciences could effectually be 
taught, to be supplemented in time by a botanical garden, an 
observatory, a zoological institute, and other similar agencies. 
Mr. Rush objected to a school of any kind, and proposed a 
project which corresponds more nearly than any other of 
those early days to that which was finally adopted. In a 
shadowy yet far-seeing way he outlined a system of scientific 
correspondence, of lectureships, of general cooperation with 
the scientific work of the government, a liberal system of 
publication, and collections — geological, zoological, botanical, 
ethnological, and technological. 

Ex-President Adams urged the establishment of a great 
astronomical observatory, "equal to any in the world," and 
he continued to urge this from year to year, and to introduce 
bills in which this feature was included, until, indeed, provision 
for astronomical work was made by the establishment of an 
observatory in connection with the navy. The bill consid- 
ered by Congress in 1839^ provided for the establishment of 
an observatory fully equipped, with provision for the publica- 
tion of its observations 'and the annual preparation and pub- 
lication of a nautical almanac. This, which had evidently 
been prepared by a minority of the joint committee, was re- 
inforced by two sets of resolutions proposed by Mr. Adams in 
the House. 

One, reported from the committee, January 26, provided : 

"That the first appropriations from the interest or income 
of the Smithsonian fund ouorht to be for the erection and es- 
tablishment, at the city of Washington, of an astronomical 
observatory, provided with the best and most approved in- 
struments and books, for the continual observation, calcu- 

1 House Bill No. 1161 ; Senate Bill No. 293. 

34 The Smithsonian Institution 

lation, and recording of the remarkable phenomena of the 
heavens, for the periodical publication of the observations 
thus made, and of a nautical almanac, for the use of the mari- 
ners of the United States and of all other navigating nations." 

The second, reported February 6, recited the opinion : 

" That the education of the children of these United States 
is a duty of solemn and indispensable obligation incumbent 
upon their parents and guardians, not for the increase and 
diffusion of knowledge among men, but to qualify them for 
the enjoyment of their rights and the performance of their 
duties throughout life, [and therefore] that no part of the 
Smithsonian fund ought to be applied to the education of the 
children or youth of the United States, nor to any school, 
college, university, or institute of education." 

These resolutions were evidently intended to antagonize 
the views still held by many Senators, and urged in the 
speech of Senator Robbins, of Rhode Island, in January, 1839, 
who declared " that this institution should make one of a 
number of colleges, to constitute a university, to be estab- 
lished here, and to be endowed in a manner worthy of this 
great nation and their immense resources." 

On February 18, Senator Robbins offered a counterpoise to 
Mr. Adams's anti-university resolution in the following: 

" I. Resolved, That it is the duty of the United States, they 
having accepted the trust under the will of Mr. Smithson, of 
London, to execute that trust bona fide, according to the true 
intent and meaning of the testator. 

" 2. Resolved, That the trust being to found an institution 
in the city of Washington for the increase and diffusion of 
knowledore amono- men, the kind of institution which will 
have the effect intended and described, in the most eminent 
degree, will be the kind of institution which ought in good 
faith to be adopted, as being most in accordance with the true 
intent and meaning of the testator. 

Founding of the Institution 35 

"3. Resolved, That all experience having shown scientific 
and literary institutions to be by far the most effectual means 
to the end of increasing and diffusing knowledge among men, 
the Smithsonian Institution should be a scientific and literary 
institution, formed upon a model the best calculated to make 
those means the most effectual to that end. 

"4. Resolved, That to apply said trust fund to the erection 
and support of an observatory would not be to fulfil bona fide 
the intention of the testator, nor would it comport with the 
dignity of the United States to owe such an establishment to 
foreign eleemosynary means." 

The Twenty-fifth Congress adjourned without action, and 
Senator Robbins having retired from public life, the univer- 
sity idea was not afterward so prominent. At this time addi- 
tional petitions were received. One was from Professor Walter 
R. Johnson, of Philadelphia, pleading for an institution for 
researches in physical science, especially in connection with 
the useful arts, which would have corresponded in a general 
way with the scientific branches of the present Department 
of Agriculture, though he proposed work in many other 

Another was from Charles L. Fleischmann, a graduate of 
the Royal School of Agriculture in Bavaria, proposing the 
establishment of an institution for the promotion of agricul- 
ture, with experimental farms of 1360 acres, manufactories, 
mills, and workshops, a considerable staff of teachers and in- 
structors, and one hundred students at the commencement." 

The Agricultural Society of Kentucky was pleading for an 
agricultural school, the Superintendent of the Coast Survey 
for a school of astronomy, and Mr. James P. Espy for a me- 
teorological bureau with a system of wide-spread simultaneous 

1 Presented to the House of Representa- 2 Reported to the House of Representa- 

tives May 21, 1838. See Rhees, op. ciL, tives January 9, 1S39. See Rhees, op. cit., 
pages 171-186. pages 186-198. 

36 The Smithsonian Institution 

The interest of the public became much greater ; earnest 
discussions were printed in the newspapers and reviews ; 
letters urging speedy action were written to Congress by 
persons in all parts of the country, and the Corporation 
of the City of Washington also presented a vigorous me- 
morial to the national legislature. 

Soon after the Twenty-sixth Congress convened, President 
Adams ao-ain introduced his bill for the establishment of a 
national observatory, accompanied by a learned and exhaust- 
ive report upon the importance of astronomical work, sup- 
plemented by a statement from the Astronomer Royal of 
Great Britain concerning the observatories at Greenwich and 
elsewhere. His ideas did not meet with favor. In his jour- 
nal for 1843 he records with much disgust that the Secretary 
of the Treasury said to him in conversation that the prejudice 
against his plan of an astronomical observatory was insur- 
mountable because he had once called observatories "light- 
houses in the skies." 

Strenuous as was his desire for an observatory, it was fee- 
ble in comparison with his apprehension lest the fund should 
be "squandered upon cormorants, or wasted in electioneering 
bribery," and his desire to save it " from misapplication, di- 
lapidation, and waste." His dread became almost morbid, and 
he looked with suspicion upon every one who was interested 
in the disposition of the bequest, even those whose names are 
now remembered in connection with his own as the most 
public-spirited promoters of the interests of the Institution in 
its days of embryonic existence. He would cooperate with 
no one, and his influence must be characterized as conserva- 
tive rather than formative, his most important service being 
his opposition to the bill for investing the fund in State 
stocks, which, in 1841, he succeeded in having repealed. 

While these things were happening at the Capitol, new 

Founding of the Instihdion 37 

agencies were coming into existence which were destined to 
exert a very positive and decisive influence upon the charac- 
ter of the new organization. Chief among these was the Na- 
tional Institution, a society organized May 15, 1840, by the 
adoption of a constitution and a declaration of objects, which 
were, " To promote science and the useful arts, and to estab- 
lish a national museum of natural history," etc. Its constitu- 
tion, as printed on the cover of the second bulletin of the 
society, was decidedly prophetic of the future plan of the 
Smithsonian Institution. The society was established in a 
broad and liberal way. Its membership was strong, includ- 
ing at the beginning about ninety representative men of 
Washington, among them members of Congress, scientific 
men, clergymen, and prominent citizens, and an equal num- 
ber of corresponding members, including all the leading men 
of the country. Among its officers were ex-President Ad- 
ams, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, the 
Chief of Engineers of the Army, and other prominent offi- 
cials. Its meetings were largely attended, its promoters were 
enthusiastic, gifts of books and specimens began to come in, 
and its prospects were in every way flattering. 

From the beginning, the Smithson legacy and its proper 
disposition was the subject most frequently discussed by the 
founders of the National Institution. For years, indeed, it 
was the opinion of many influential men that this society 
ought to be made the custodian of the Smithson fund. How 
strongly this was urged is indicated in the letter addressed to 
the Secretaries of War and of the Navy in 1842, in which the 
managers stated that the object of the National Institution is 
''to increase and to diffuse knoivlcdgc aviong ?nc?i,'' making 
prominent the words of Smithson. instead of the official 
designation of the objects of their own society. 

The influence of the society was strongly and continuously 

38 The Smithsonian Institution 

exerted upon Congress during the six years from its organi- 
zation until the Smithsonian Act was eventually passed, and 
resulted in the final engrafting of a national museum upon 
the Smithsonian project, and also in the addition of various 
features of organization which have since become such char- 
acteristic elements in the plan of the Smithsonian Institution. 

The controlling mind in this movement was undoubtedly 
that of the Honorable Joel R. Poinsett, of South Carolina, 
who was Secretary of the Navy in 1840, and at whose resi- 
dence the society was organized. Mr. Poinsett was, under 
the first plan of organization, senior director, and occupied 
the chair at every meeting until, in 1841, under an amended 
constitution, he was elected its first president. Notwithstand- 
ing the fact that officers were annually elected, he told Mr. 
Adams soon after this election that he should for two years 
to come preside over the National Institution, a clear indica- 
tion of the controlling influence which he consciously exerted. 
He was in fact reelected to the presidency at each annual 
meeting until 1845, when, having declined the candidacy, he 
was elected an honorary member, and Senator Woodbury, of 
New Hampshire, became president in his place. From this 
period the decline in the prosperity of the society was marked. 

It is certain that as early as 1838, when the bequest was 
first received, Mr. Poinsett was thinking seriously about its 
disposal. This is made clear by an entry in the diary of John 
Quincy Adams, under date of December 8, in which the ex- 
President describes his interview and was evidently impressed 
with the idea that Mr. Poinsett did not give him his entire 

In April, 1839, they discussed the matter again, and in 
1 84 1 Mr. Adams wrote again in his diary: "April i. Mr. 
Poinsett called upon me and now fully disclosed his pro- 
ject, which is to place the investment and disposal of the 

Founding of the InstiUttion 39 

Smithsonian funds under the management of the American 
Institution for the Promotion of Literature and Science [evi- 
dently meaning the National Institution]. He concurs entirely 
in my views of confining the appropriations to the annual 
interest, leaving the principal unimpaired, and of making the 
first appropriations for the establishment of an astronomical 
observatory. . . . He said he had at present no other occu- 
pation on hand, and would be willing to devote two years en- 
tirely to organizing this establishment and getting it into full 
operation." "I know not," added the aged statesman, "that 
it could be accomplished more effectively, and think I must 
acquiesce in this arrangement and endeavor to carry it through. 
The chief obstacle, however, will now be to extricate the 
funds from the fangs of the State of Arkansas. Mr. Poinsett 
thought that they paid the interest upon the bonds punctu- 
ally; but the law requires that the interest should, when paid, 
be immediately reinvested in State stocks, and I struggled 
in vain at the last session of Congress to obtain a repeal of 
that law. Mr. Poinsett said he was now going in a very few 
days to South Carolina, but should soon return here ... to 
preside over the National Institution for the Promotion of 
Science ; and, as he expressed a wish that the Smithsonian 
fund might be connected with that Institution and placed un- 
der its management, I requested him to take the bill reported 
to the House with my report of 5th March, 1840, and prepare 
any amendment to it which would carry out his views, and 
send it to me before the approaching session of Congress ; 
which he said would do."^ 

1 Extracts from the memoirs of John his advocacy of the project. (See remarks, 

Qiiincy Adams, Rhees, " The Smithsonian In- March 8, \%\\, Proceedings of the National In- 

stitution : Documents relative to its Origin j-Z/Vm/zV^w, page 69, and letter, February 7, 1842, 

and History," pages 769, 774, 779, 780. Proceedings of the National Institution, page 

Mr. Poinsett was not only the first to pub- I57-) Dr. Peter S. Duponceau, president of 

licly suggest the union of the Smithsonian with the American Philosophical Society, in a letter 

the National Institution, but was constant in to the institution in November, 1840, re- 


The Smithsoniait Institittion 

Poinsett, when elected to the presidency of the National 
Institution, was a man of sixty-two. He had lived an event- 
ful life, full of opportunities for observing the institutions of 
Europe, Asia, and South America. His culture was broad 
and sympathetic, and he was better fitted, perhaps, than any 
of the public men of his time to appreciate the necessity of 
organizing our institutions in accordance with a liberal and 
comprehensive plan. In his interviews with those who advo- 
cated an observatory as the first result of the Smithson be- 
quest, he showed a full appreciation of the value of such an 
institution, but seems to have kept before his own mind a 
much more comprehensive ideal. In his address upon the 
"Objects and Aims of the National Institution for the Promo- 
tion of Science," delivered at the first anniversary meeting, 
January 4, 1841, he referred pointedly to the Smithson be- 
quest, saying that it offered a favorable occasion for carrying 
into effect all the important objects connected with the Na- 
tional Institution, such as that which he was then addressing, 
enabling the government to afford all necessary protection to 
the promotion of science and the useful arts,^ without the ex- 
ercise of any doubtful power. 

Soon after this, in February, Senators Linn, of Missouri, 

marked : "Congress cannot find abetter oppor- 
tunity to execute the will of that beneficent tes- 
tator than by laying hold of yourinstitution and 
making it its own." {Proceedings, page 12.) 
The Honorable Virgil Maxey, Charge d'Af- 
faires at Brussels, wrote in December, 1840, 
that in his opinion no better use could be 
made of the bequest than to place it under 
the direction of a society organized for the 
proper carrying into effect views identical with 
those contemplated by the philanthropical 
and philosophical testator. {Proceedings, 
page 46.) 

See in this connection letters from Richard 
Rush, on the Smithsonian Bequest {Proceed- 
ings 0/ the National Institution, 1842, pages 
201-204); from Peter S. Duponceau, on the 

Smithsonian Bequest (('/.<-//■., pages 204-208); 
from Honorable Virgil Maxey, Charge d'Af- 
faires of the United States at Brussels {op. cit., 
pages 46-47) ; Opening Address by John 
Tyler, President of the United States, patron 
of the National Institute {op. r/A, pages 437- 
438) ; letter from the Honorable Levi Wood- 
bury, United States Senate {op. cit., pages 
451-453); Smithsonian Bequest, by the Hon- 
orable Richard Rush {op. cit., pages 455- 
460) ; address of Honorable Mr. Preston, of 
the United States Senate {op. cit., page236); 
letter of John Pickering, of Boston, Septem- 
ber I, 1841 {op. cit., pages 107-110). 

1 These were the avowed objects of the 
National Institution, as can be seen by ref- 
erence to its constitution. 

Founding of the Institution 41 

and Preston, of South Carolina, both members of the Na- 
tional Institution, proposed new bills for the organization 
of the Smithsonian Institution, at the same time report- 
ing a bill to incorporate the National Institution for the 
Promotion of Science. By these bills, the entire man- 
agement of the Smithsonian foundation was to be intrusted 
to the National Institution. Its officers, a superintendent, 
and six professors, were to be nominated by that society, 
which was also to prescribe their duties. Provision was 
made for joint occupancy by the two institutions of build- 
ings to be erected at the cost of the Smithson bequest, and 
finally it was required that all collections of works of art 
and of natural history owned by the United States, not other- 
wise assigned (or " all works of art, and all books relating 
thereto, and all collections and curiosities belonging to the 
United States in the possession of any of the Executive De- 
partments and not necessarily connected with the duties 
thereof") shall be deposited in said buildings (or "shall be 
transferred to said institution, to be there preserved and 
arranged "). 

Poinsett's enthusiasm was contagious, and his arguments, 
manifestly based upon careful observations and judicious 
reasoning and inspired by hopeful patriotism, brought him 
many sympathizers. Among these the Honorable Levi 
Woodbury, who had been a member of the same Cabinet 
with Mr. Poinsett, and was subsequently in the Senate, 
Senator Preston, of South Carolina, one of the directors of the 
Institute, Senator Walker, of Mississippi, and Senator Linn, 
of Missouri, corresponding members, appear to have been es- 
pecially friendly to the plans of Mr. Poinsett, and on various 
occasions from 1841 to 1846 promoted the interests of the 
National Institution on the floor of the Senate. 

In June, 1842, Mr. Poinsett was again in Washington, and 


42 The Smithsonian Institution 

presided at a meeting for the purpose of connecting the or- 
ganization of the National Institution with that of the Smith- 
sonian Institution. 

" Mr. Preston," wrote John Ouincy Adams, " has introduced 
into the Senate a bill for combining these two institutions, 
and now stated to the meeting his views on the subject, em- 
bracing an appropriation of $20,000 and the occupation by 
law of a large portion of the Patent Office building, for the 
preservation and arrangement of the objects of curiosity col- 
lected by the exploring expedition under Lieutenant Wilkes, 
now daily expected home ; and he called on me to say how 
far my purposes may be concurrent with these suggestions. 

" I said I had the warmest disposition to favor them, and 
thought there was but one difficulty in the way, which might 
perhaps be surmounted. I had believed that the whole bur- 
den and the whole honor of the Smithsonian Institution should 
be exclusively confined to itself, and not entangled or com- 
mingled with any national establishment requiring appropria- 
tions of public money. I exposed the principles upon which 
all my movements relating to the Smithsonian bequest have 
been founded, as well as the bills which at four successive 
Congresses I have reported, first, for obtaining the money, 
and then for disposing of the fund. 

"At the motion of Mr. Walker, of Mississippi, the Presi- 
dent, Mr. Poinsett, was authorized to appoint a committee of 
five members of the Institute, to confer with Mr. Preston and 
me upon the means of connecting the Smithsonian Institution 
with the National Institute." 

Nothing resulted from these deliberations. 

On June 13, at a stated meeting of the National Insti- 
tution, Senator Preston was present, and delivered, as the 
records relate, "an eloquent speech, in which he descanted 
at length on the history and labor of the Institution, what 
it had done, and what it proposed to do, its capacity to be 
eminently useful to the country and Congress, the advan- 

Foimding of the Institittion 


tage of uniting the Smithsonian Institution with it, etc., and 
appealed to Congress and to the Hberal citizens of the United 
States to come forward in aid of a glorious cause and in the 
accomplishment of the great national objects which the Insti- 
tution has in view," ^ etc. 

Senator Preston's bill for the union of the two establish- 
ments came to naught.^ 

During this session, however, the act to incorporate the 
National Institute, as it was henceforth to be called, passed 
in a much modified form, and was approved July 27, 1842,^ 
and the society now seems to have felt much more secure in 
its project of retaining control of the National Museum, and 
of gaining eventually the management of the Smithson fund, 
or, at least, of obtaining an appropriation from Congress. 

Senator Woodbury,* of New Hampshire, in commenting 
upon the form of the charter, remarked that " care was taken 
originally to make the Institute different from all other char- 
tered bodies, even in this District, so as to elevate it above 
every motive of personal gain, dedicating its labors exclu- 
sively to objects of a public character and vesting all the pro- 
perty possessed for this purpose in the government itself; 
and thus, by rendering it national in substance as well as 
name, to obviate any constitutional objection which might 
arise agfainst measures in its behalf." 

The chanofe of the name from " Institution" to " Institute" 
was made in deference to a suggestion by Doctor Peter S. 

"^Proceedings of the National Institution, 
page 236. A copy was requested for publica- 
tion (/(?<:. cit., page 241), but I cannot learn 
that it was ever put in type. 

2 It was laid upon the table July 18, 1842, 
and never again came up. 

3 See " Charter of Incorporation, Constitu- 
tion and By-Laws " in Proceedings of the Na- 
tional Institution, pages 3S8-392. See also 
"Bill to Incorporate the National Institution," 
etc., reported by Senator Preston (Senate Bill 

No. 258), February 17, 1841, in Rhees,"Doc- 
uments," etc., pages 239-341. See also "Me- 
morial of the Officers of the National Institu- 
tion for the Promotion of Science, January 21, 
1842" (House Documents No. 59, Twenty- 
Seventh Congress, Second Session, II.), sub- 
milting draft of a bill of incorporation. 

4 For a thorough understanding of the mat- 
ter see the remarks of Senator Woodbury in 
full, which were printed in the Proceedings of 
the National Institution, pages 336, 337. 

44 The Smithsonian Instihttion 

Duponceaii in a letter written in April, 1842, in which he 

" I have seen with great pleasure the bill brought into the 
Senate by the Honorable Mr. Preston. It fully coincides 
with the views that I have expressed. The object, in my 
opinion, is to preserve the superiority of the National Institu- 
tion over the Smithsonian, and of the government over both. 

" I would beg leave to suggest whether it would not be 
advisable to make some small alteration in the name of the 
National Institution so that it should not bear exactly the 
same name with the Smithsonian, but one expressive of some 
degree of superiority. I would recommend, for instance, that 
of Institute, which appears to me more dignified than that of 
Institution, which is equally applicable to a school or college 
as to a great national establishment for the promotion of 
science. My idea would be to call the national establishment 
the ' National Institute for the Promotion of Science,' and 
the subordinate one the * Smithsonian Institution,' without 

No appropriation came, however, and the charter and 
changed name failed to add to the prosperity of the society. 
At a meeting on June 20,-^ 1842, a resolution was passed ap- 
pointing a committee to solicit private contributions of money 
and property. On August 8, 1842, a report was made by 
this committee proposing to institute an annual scientific con- 
vention at Washington, during the session of Congress, and 
under the auspices of the Institute, and also recommended 
an extensive system of exchange of specimens for the benefit 
of the museum. 

At the meeting of September 12, 1842, Mr. Poinsett, the 
president, proposed a series of resolutions^ intended to put 
the recommendation of the report into effect. 

1 Evidently not June 13, though so stated in one portion of the minutes. 

See Proceedings of the National Institntiott, pages 236, 241, 335. 

^'^QQ Proceedings o/t/ie National Institution, page 336. 

Founding of the Institution 45 

All of these resolutions and reports were issued in the 
form of circulars/ but the appeals "to the liberality and 
public spirit of our countrymen " were without avail. Con- 
sequently a special meeting of the board of management was 
held December 23, 1843, at the office of the Secretary of 
State. That the society was regarded at that time as one of 
national importance is shown by the presence at the meet- 
ing of Mr. Abel P. Upshur, Secretary of State, who took an 
active part in the proceedings ; the Honorable John Quincy 
Adams, who presided ; Senator Levi Woodbury, late Secre- 
tary of the Treasury, who agreed to represent the meeting 
in Congress; the Honorable Joseph R. Ingersoll, who acted as 
secretary, and who wrote out in his preamble to the minutes 
of the meeting a forcible statement of the needs of the so- 
ciety ; the Honorable Charles J. Ingersoll, Senator Robert 
J. Walker, besides the Honorable Peter Force, Colonel John 
J. Abert, Colonel Joseph G. Totten, Lieutenant Matthew F. 
Maury, and the officers of the society. 

The issue of this meeting was the decision " to memorialize 
Congress on the subject of the condition and wants of the 
Institute." The memorial was presented in due course, and 
in June, 1844, Senator Choate, of Massachusetts, presented 
a report upon the character and uses of the Institute, recom- 
mending that its property should be vested in the United 
States and an appropriation made for its benefit. 

In the mean time, on the occasion of the first annual meet- 
ing of the National Institute under its new name and in its 
capacity as a corporation, in April, 1844, the meeting of the 
friends of science, including, besides all the members and 
patrons of the National Institute, the members of the Ameri- 
can Philosophical Society and of the Association of American 
Geologists and Naturalists (the predecessor of the American 

1 October 15, 1842, and February 24, 1843. 


46 The Smithsonian Institution 

Association for the Advancement of Science), had been held 
in Washington. The occasion was a brilliantly successful 
one. The President of the United States presided at the 
first meeting and some prominent public man at each of the 

The National Institute received its full share of encomium. 
President Tyler, in presiding at the first meeting, lauded it 
highly, held out the hope that the government would "con- 
tinue to it a fostering care," and expressed in a general way 
the hope that it should be identified with the future National 
Museum and the future Smithsonian Institution. "Where 
can the government find," said he, "a safer depository for 
the fruits of its expeditions, fitted out to explore distant and 
unknown regions, than the National Institute? What can it 
better do for the ' increase and diffusion of knowledge among 
men ' than by patronizing and sustaining this magnificent 
undertaking ? " 

Senator Walker, of Mississippi, one of the directors of the 
Institute, delivered an address on the present condition and 
history of American science, ending with an appeal to scien- 
tific men to come forward and unite with the people in sus- 
taining and advancing the National Institute. 

Senator Woodbury, of New Hampshire, in a letter to the 
secretary, expressed himself strongly in favor of making the 
society the agent of the government in the matter of caring 
for collections, patents, and copyrights, and also in the exe- 
cution of the Smithson trust. 

John Quincy Adams closed his address in these words : 

" I avail myself of this occasion to express my regret that, 
having taken an humble part in the establishment of this 
institution from its first foundation, under the auspices of 
Mr. Poinsett, I have been able to contribute so little to its 
promotion and advantage, and to add my heartfelt satisfaction 

Founding of the Instihition 47 

at the prosperity which, by the untiring exertion and fervid 
zeal of its executive officers, it has attained. I believe it 
eminently deserving of the fostering care and liberal patron- 
age of the Congress of the United States, and could antici- 
pate no happier close to my public life than to contribute, by 
my voice and by my vote, to record the sanction of the 
nation's munificence to sustain the National Institute devoted 
to the cause of science." 

The Honorable Richard Rush, in a paper on " The Smith- 
sonian Bequest," submitted to this meeting, urged that the 
Smithsonian fund should be "engrafted upon the National 
Institute," and submitted an elaborate argument in favor of 
his proposal. 

It was a gala week for the Institute. The meeting was in 
every respect a success, and there was reason to believe that 
Congress would share in the general enthusiasm, take the so- 
ciety under its patronage, and even give it the control of the 
Smithson fund. 

In the circular of invitation, dated March 5, 1843, the ob- 
jects of the meeting as a means of strengthening the position 
of the society had been boldly stated, and the committee did 
not hesitate to say that " should the meeting prove as suc- 
cessful as the hopes of the managers in relation to it are ar- 
dent, they will expect hereafter to welcome all who may visit 
the association in apartments peculiar to itself, stored with 
the objects of its honest pride and worthy of its distinguished 
visitors." Such a paper, signed by such influential names as 
those of John C. Spencer, Secretary of the Treasury ; Rob- 
ert J. Walker, William C. Rives, Rufus Choate, of the Senate; 
Joseph R. Ingersoll and William C. Preston, of the House of 
Representatives ; Alexander D. Bache, Superintendent of the 
Coast Survey ; and Abbott Lawrence, of Boston, was surely 
a powerful campaign document. None the less weighty was 

48 The Smithsonian Institution 

the "Memorial of the Friends of Science who attended the April 
meeting of the National Institute," signed by nearly forty rep- 
resentative scientific men and college presidents from all parts 
of the United States, speaking in terms of high commenda- 
tion of the National Institute, and particularly of the extent 
and value of its museum material, and expressing the hope 
" that the enlightened and intelligent members of Congress 
will distinguish the present session by the appropriation of 
funds to an object so truly national and so truly republican." 

The hopes of the promoters of the Institute were doomed 
to disappointment. Congress adjourned without making any 
provision for its needs. 

In July a new scheme was proposed for collecting money 
from private sources by the efforts of trustworthy agents, and 
in December a committee was appointed to again memorialize 
Congress.^ The movement had, however, received its death- 
blow. The failure of the tremendous effort of April, 1844, 
disheartened all its friends. At the next annual meeting Mr. 
Poinsett declined reelection to the presidency. The society's 
publications were discontinued, and even the annual address 
of Senator Woodbury, solicited for publication by the society, 
seems to have remained in manuscript unprinted. No more 
meetings were held, and the list of 350 resident and 1250 cor- 
responding members began to grow shorter. An effort was 
made to revive it in 1847, and a meager report was made 
once afterward by the corresponding secretary. In 1855 it 
was brougfht into existence for a time as a local scientific so- 
ciety,^ and issued a new series of proceedings. Its glory de- 
parted, however, with the first annual meeting, in 1844, and 
the attention of Congress was directed exclusively to the or- 
ganization of the Smithsonian Institution. 

1 Proceedings of the N'ational Institute, page 375. 
2 Professor Henry was for a time an officer, and endeavored to have its name changed to 

"MetropoUtan Institute." 

Pounding of the Institution 49 

The influence of the National Institute upon the history of 
science in the United States, and particularly in educating 
public opinion and the judgment of Congress to an applica- 
tion of the proper means of disposing of the Smithsonian 
legacy, cannot well be overestimated. If the Smithsonian In- 
stitution had been organized before the National Institute 
had exerted its influences, it would have been a school, an 
observatory, or an agricultural experiment-station. 

In 1846, however, the country was prepared to expect it 
to be a general agency for the advancement of scientific in- 
terests of all kinds — as catholic, as unselfish, as universal as 
the National Institute had been prepared to be. 

The National Institute, after nearly five years of activity, 
suddenly ceased to be a center of public interest. The strug- 
gle over the Smithsonian bequest, however, was still going 
on. During the Twenty-seventh Congress (i 841 -1843) ^^ 
Senate did nothing. The House of Representatives ap- 
pointed a select committee on the subject, and Mr. Adams as 
chairman reported a new bill, providing still more thoroughly 
for the erection of an observatory and the publication of a 
nautical almanac to be called the Smithsonian Almanac. 

The Twenty-eighth Congress (1843-1845) brought its 
deliberations in regard to the Smithsonian bequest more 
nearly to an issue. The astronomical observatory bill ^ was 
again presented by Mr. Adams, but not acted upon. In the 
Senate, in the first session, a bill for the Smithsonian Institu- 
tion was reported June 6, 1844, from the Joint Committee on 
the Library, by Senator Tappan, of Ohio, who in the second 
session, December 12, introduced another bill, somewhat 
similar, but presenting the character of the books to be 
bought. This bill, before being finally voted upon, was 
brought into a form somewhat resembling that which was 

1 House of Representatives 418, Twenty -eighth Congress. 

50 The Smithsonian Instihttion 

finally adopted. It provided, however, for the appointment 
of various professors and lecturers, for a school of agriculture 
and mechanical arts, as well as for experimental gardens, a 
library of science and economics, and a museum. 

The museum clause of this bill was much the same as that 
finally agreed to, and contained a provision that the natural 
history objects, and geological and mineralogical specimens 
belonging to the United States, " in whosesoever custody the 
same may be," should be transferred to the custody of the 
board of managers of the Smithsonian Institution. This was 
evidently worded with the purpose of withdrawing from the 
possession of the National Institute the various collections, 
including those which had belonged to Smithson, which had 
fallen into its hands between 1840 and 1845. Indeed, the 
National Institute seems to have already become the object 
of some distrust and prejudice. A proposition that two of 
the seven "managers," not ex officio members of the board, 
should be selected from the membership of the National In- 
stitute, caused a vigorous debate in the Senate, in the 
course of which at least two Senators objected strongly to 
placing the administration of the Smithsonian Institution, 
even to so slight a degree as this, in the hands of a private 

The bill finally passed the Senate, January 23, 1845, but 
was not acted upon by the House. 

In connection with Mr. Tappan's bill, in January, 1845, 
Senator Choate, of Massachusetts, first appeared in advocacy 
of the establishment of "a noble public library, — one which, 
for variety, extent, and wealth, should be equal to any in the 
world," — and delivered an eloquent oration upon the influence 
of books. The amendment at that time proposed by him, 
together with other amendments urged by Mr. George P. 
Marsh, in connection with the Owen- Hough bill, brought 

Founding of the Instittttion 5 1 

forward in the following session, had a great influence upon 
the final adjustment of the plan of administration.^ 

To the Twenty-ninth Congress (1845-1847) belongs the 
honor of finally formulating the act of incorporation by which 
the Smithsonian Institution was established. This was at 
last accomplished under the leadership of Robert Dale Owen, 
of Indiana, who reported the bill nearly in its final form, 
though somewhat modified in a substitute offered by Mr. 
William J. Hough, and still more by the refusal of the House 
to agree to Mr. Owen's favorite feature of a normal school. 
John Ouincy Adams was a member of the select committee to 
which it was referred, together with Mr. Owen, chairman ; 
Mr. Timothy Jenkins, Mr, George P. Marsh, Mr. Alexander 
D. Sims, Mr. Jefferson Davis, and Mr. David Wilmot. 

Mr. Adams was now for the first time willing to cease his 
advocacy of a Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory, the 
Naval Observatory having been organized on a plan "at 
least equal in everything but the experience of its observers 
to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich." 

In the Hough bill, which was a modification of that of 
Owen, there was an attempt of another kind to weld together 
the Smithsonian Institution and the " National Cabinet of 
Curiosities," by giving to the Board of Regents the authority 
to erect a building by the side of the Patent Office, so as 
to form a wing of that structure, and to connect it with the 
hall then containing the National Cabinet, so as to constitute 
that hall in whole or in part the depository of the cabinet of 
the Institution. This was discretionary, however, with the Re- 
gents, who fortunately did not look upon the plan with favor. 

Reference has been made to the marked similarity between 
the plans of organization of the National and Sniithsonian 
Institutions. The former, like the Smithsonian, had a su- 

1 See report of Honorable James Meachani, 1854, pages 10-12. 

52 The Smithsonian Institution 

perior board of officers, composed of the President of the 
United States and the members of his Cabinet. It had also 
a board of directors, which inchided in its membership dele- 
gates from the Senate and House of Representatives, corre- 
sponding in function to. the Smithsonian Board of Regents, 
In other respects, still more markedly than in the constitution 
of its governing board, the Smithsonian seems to have been 
organized with the plan of the National Institute in view. 

The objects, as defined in the Congressional act of estab- 
lishment,^ correspond very closely to those announced in the 
early publications of the National Institute, which at its foun- 
dation divided its members into eight classes, as follows: (i) 
Astronomy, Geography, and Natural Philosophy ; (2) Nat- 
ural History; (3) Geology and Mineralogy; (4) Chemistry; 
(5) The application of same to useful arts ; (6) Agriculture ; 
(7) American History and Antiquities ; (8) Fine Arts. 

The term "manager" to designate a member of the gov- 
erning board, and which was derived from the organization 
of the National Institute, was employed in every bill except 
in the substitute proposed only a few hours before final action, 
when it was replaced by the term " regent," which was doubt- 
less suggested by Mr. William J. Hough, the mover of the 
substitute, a representative of the State of New York, and 
familiar with the organization of the University of the State 
of New York, which was under the control of a board of 

Ten years after the announcement of the bequest, and 
eight years after the beginning of the contest as to its dis- 
position, the bill to incorporate the Smithsonian Institution 
received the approval of Congress and the President. The 
charter in its final form did not represent the views of any 
one party, except in some degree that which favored the 

1 Sections 5 and 6. 

Founding of the Institution 53 

library and incidentally the museum. The bill as finally pre- 
sented contained several special provisions not harmonious 
with the spirit of Smithson's bequest as at present under- 
stood. These were, for the most part, eliminated in the final 
discussion, and the Act finally passed by Congress, and ap- 
proved by the President, August 10, 1846, while broad enough 
to permit almost any work for intellectual advancement, was 
fortunately expressed in such general terms as to allow a 
large degree of liberty to the governing board. 

The Board of Regents was appointed without delay, and 
their meeting was held on September 7 in a room in the 
General Post-Office Building set apart for their use by 
direction of the President of the United States. Though 
many wise men participated in the councils in which the man- 
ner of executing the trust of Smithson was decided, there are 
certain names which are especially significant as those of the 
statesmen and patriots who made the interests of the infant 
institution their own special care, and who, by their wisdom 
and earnest advocacy, shaped its destiny. It seems proper 
that in this memorial volume an attempt should be made to 
show what each of these contributed to the final result. 

John Ouincy Adams was perhaps the most influential in 
securing the acceptance of the bequest and in creating a high 
ideal for its administration. He antagonized the idea of using 
it to found a university, and defeated Owen's project for a 
normal school, which was only eliminated from the bill a few 
minutes before final action. He opposed all projects for 
making its work directly practical. His influence was limited 
by his pertinacious advocacy of the idea that the founding 
of an observatory was the only proper distribution of the first 
income of the fund. His position in this matter has been 
misunderstood. He wished that the income for seven suc- 
cessive years should go to found an observatory. " During 

54 The Smithsonian Institution 

this period," he said, "there will be ample time for consider- 
ing the best means of appropriating the same income after- 
ward to promote establishments for increasing and diffusing 
knowledge among men. A botanical garden," he contin- 
ued, "a cabinet of natural history, a museum of mineralogy, 
conchology or geology, a general accumulating library — 
all institutions of which there are numerous examples among 
the civilized Christian nations, and of most of which our own 
country is not entirely destitute — all are undoubtedly in- 
cluded within the comprehensive grasp of Mr. Smithson's de- 
sign — all may receive, in turn, and with progressive utility 
and power, liberal contributions from the continually grow- 
ing income of the trust. Nor did the committee believe that 
the moral or political sciences, the philosophy of language, 
the natural history of speech, the graces of polite literature, 
the mechanic or the liberal arts, were to be excluded from the 
benefits prepared for posterity by the perpetuation of this 
fund." He did not desire that a permanent organization 
should be formed, believing, though wrongly, as the event has 
proved, that such an organization could not be kept efficient 
and pure under the control of a government like ours ; and 
his suspicions in regard to the motives of those who seemed 
interested in the project undoubtedly lessened his power of 
controlling it. 

His most important service was to establish the principle 
that only the interest of the fund should be used, and that the 
principal should be permanently invested in the Treasury of 
the United States. This, after all, was his chief ambition — "to 
secure, as from a rattlesnake's fang, the fund and its income, 
forever, from being wasted and dilapidated in bounties to 
feed the hunger or fatten the leaden idleness of mountebank 
projectors and shallow and worthless pretenders to science." ^ 

1 Rhees, "The Smithsonian Institution: Documents," etc., page 849. 





:: ,1 


irH T 



HHT 'iO ^ITASr/IAf)aO aHT KO ^.aYTTAT>ia8aH^I?TH TO 

Fotmciing of the Institution 55 

John Davis, of Massachusetts, was the one in the Senate 
who, in 1836, stoutly maintained, against much opposition, 
that the government had the right to accept the bequest and 
to apply it for the purpose indicated by Smithson, saying 
that "he deemed the establishment of institutions for the 
diffusion of knowledge a vital principle of a republican gov- 

Joel R. Poinsett, of South Carolina, aided by his associates 
of the National Institute, exercised an influence greater per- 
haps than any other in shaping the final disposition of the 
fund. The Smithsonian Institution became in time almost 
the equivalent of the National Institute, as in 1841 he hoped 
it would be, — an institution which, having at its command an 
observatory, a museum containing collections of all the pro- 
ductions of nature, a botanic and zoological garden, and the 
necessary apparatus for illustrating every branch of physical 
science, would attract together men of learning and students 
from every part of our country, would open new avenues of 
intelligence throughout the whole of its vast extent, and 
would contribute largely to disseminate among the people 
the truths of nature and the light of science. To Poinsett 
are due: (i) the idea of an important building, which should 
be a permanent feature at the capital ; (2) the plan for a 
national museum of science and art, with a staff of curators ; 
(3) the determining of the location of the Institution upon 
the Mall ; (4) the main features of the plan of organiza- 
tion, with the President and his Cabinet as trustees, and a 
subordinate board of trustees selected by Congress in part 
from among its own members ; (5) the inauguration of a 
system of international exchanges of books, under the inspira- 
tion of Alexander Vattemare, which, though not provided for 
in the organizing bill, was actually in operation as early as 
1 84 1, with indirect aid from the government. 

56 The Smithsonian Institution 

Rufus Choate, of Massachusetts, and George P. Marsh, of 
Vermont, were instrumental in giving prominence to the 
library project, upon which so much of the fund was expended 
during the first few years — a feature which, though at the 
time almost perilous, undoubtedly had great effect not only 
upon the development of the National Library, but of the re- 
lationship of the Smithsonian Institution to other institutions 
of learning at home and abroad. To Mr. Choate and to 
Benjamin Tappan was due in large degree the defeat of the 
aspirations of the National Institute toward the control of 
the Smithsonian fund, and to Senator Asher Robbins, of 
Rhode Island, the defeat of Mr. Adams's plan for an obser- 
vatory, to which at the time he opposed, with considerable 
prospect of success, a counter-project for a great postgraduate 

Richard Rush, of Pennsylvania, not only rendered material 
service in securing the legacy, but was the first to propose 
a staff of scholarly investigators resident in the national 
capital, who, by their researches, publications, and lectures, 
should aid in keeping the United States in touch with the 
scientific progress of the rest of the world ; and a press for 
publishing the communications of learned societies and of 
individuals eminent in science and letters in every part of 
the world. Most significant, however, was his conception 
of a permanent national organization, under the wing of the 
government and indirectly under its control, which should be 
a center of intellectual activity, and not only maintain its own 
staff of learned men, but cooperate with and stimulate the 
scientific and educational work of the government — a plan, as 
has already been indicated, quite in contrast with that in the 
mind of Mr. Adams. 

Robert Dale Owen, of Indiana, was the first to bring into 
harmonious and generally acceptable form the various plans 

Fo2tnding of the Institution 57 

which had been under consideration for ten years before. 
He prepared the final act of incorporation, which was drawn 
up by him in 1845, ^'''*^ which was, except in the elimination 
of his plan for a national normal school, but slightly changed 
in the substitute which was finally passed. As a member of 
the first Board of Regents, he was instrumental in selecting 
and carrying out the plan for the Smithsonian building, and, 
as chairman of the Organization Committee, drew up, with 
the assistance of Alexander Dallas Bache, the " Report on 
Plan of Organization," in which the organizing Act was ana- 
lyzed and expounded, and many of the possibilities of the 
future for the first time clearly set forth. From this Com- 
mittee was also reported at an early meeting the following 
resolution, from the adoption of which, and its legitimate out- 
come, there have been more significant results than through 
any other act of this or any succeeding board : 

"■Resolved, That it is essential, for the advancement of the 
proper interests of the trust, that the Secretary of the Smith- 
sonian Institution be a man possessing weight of character, 
and a high grade of talent ; and that it is further desirable 
that he possess eminent scientific and general requirements ; 
that he be a man capable of advancing science and promoting 
letters by original research and effort, well qualified to act as 
a respected channel of communication between the Institution 
and scientific and literary individuals and societies in this and 
foreign countries ; and, in a word, a man worthy to represent, 
before the world of science and of letters, the institution over 
which this board presides." 

The successful organization of the Institution has been the 
result of long-continued effort on the part of men of unusual 
ability, energy, and personal influence. No board of trus- 
tees, no succession of officers serving out their terms in rota- 
tion, could have developed from a chaos of conflicting opinions 


58 The Smithsonian Listitution 

a strongly Individualized establishment like the Smithsonian 
Institution. The names of Henry and Baird are so thor- 
oughly identified with the history of the Institution during 
its first four decades that their biographies would together 
form an almost complete history of its operations. A thirty- 
two years' term of service was rendered by one, thirty-seven 
by the other. Perhaps no other organization has had the 
benefit of so uninterrupted an administration of forty years, 
beginning with its birth and continuing in an unbroken line 
of consistent policy a career of growing usefulness and 

The first meeting of the Board of Regents took place Sep- 
tember 6, 1846, and before the end of the year the policy of 
the Regents was practically determined upon, for, after decid- 
ing upon the plan of the building now occupied, they elected 
to the secretaryship Professor Joseph Henry, and thus ap- 
proved his plan for the organization of the Institution which 
had previously been submitted to them. 

Henry was succeeded in the office of Secretary by Profes- 
sor Spencer Fullerton Baird, then the leading authority on 
the mammals, birds, fishes, and reptiles of America, the foun- 
der of the United States Fish Commission, and of "public 
fish culture," elected in 1878; and he in turn by Samuel 
Pierpont Langley, preeminent as physicist and astronomer, 
the inventor of the bolometer, the discoverer of the greater 
portion of the infra-red spectrum, and the highest authority 
upon the physics of the atmosphere, elected in 1888. 



By George Brown Goode 


corporation or Establishment, created by the 

act of Congress approved August lo, 1846, 

" for the increase and diffusion of knowledge 

^m:i^r^^ among men." 

Its statutory members are the President of the United 
States, the Vice-President of the United States, the Chief 
Justice of the United States,^ the Secretary of State, the 
Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of War, the 
Attorney-General, the Postmaster-General, the Secretary of 
the Navy, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Secretary 
of Agriculture. 

The duty of the Establishment is the "supervision of the 
affairs of the Institution and the advice and instruction of the 
Board of Regents." The Establishment has, from time to 

1 The original act of incorporation also 
named as members of the Establishment the 
Commissioner of the Patent Office of the 
United States and the Mayor of the city of 
Washington. This act was amended March 
20, 1871, so as to substitute the Governor 
of the District of Columbia as an ex officio 

Regent, in place of the Mayor of Washington, 
the latter office ha\Tng ceased to exist. In 
1874 the office of Governor of the District of 
Columbia was in turn abolished. In 1877 the 
Secretary of the Interior, and in 1894 the Sec- 
retary of Agriculture, were added as members 
of the Establishment. 


6o The Smithsonian Institution 

time, selected eminent citizens of the United States to be hon- 
orary members of the Institution, and to share with them the 
responsibihties with which they are charged. The persons 
thus honored^ have been Doctor Robert Hare, of Philadel- 
phia ; the Honorable Albert Gallatin, of New York ; Professor 
Benjamin Silliman, of Connecticut; Washington Irving, of 
New York; Professor Parker Cleaveland, of Maine; Doctor 
Augustus B. Longstreet, of Mississippi ; and the Honorable 
Columbus Delano, of Ohio. 

The first meeting of the Establishment was held August i, 
1849, in the newly completed eastern range of the Smith- 
sonian building, Zachary Taylor, President of the United 
States, occupying the chair. Eight meetings have since 
been held, the last on May 5, 1877, adjourning to meet at the 
call of the President. 

The Establishment, though exercising constant supervision 
over the affairs of the Institution, being represented upon the 
Board of Regents by two of its members, one of them the 
Chancellor, as its presiding officer, has never deemed it nec- 
essary to take any formal action at its meetings, save to 
adopt, May 17, 1853, a code of by-laws,^ and to listen from 
time to time to general statements by the Secretary in regard 
to the condition and affairs of the Institution. 

The Regents of the Smithsonian Institution are charged 
by the act of incorporation with the duty of conducting the 
business of the Institution. Two members of the Establish- 
ment, the Vice-President of the United States and the Chief 
Justice, are, in virtue of their office, members of the Board of 
Regents. There are also three members of the Senate, three 
members of the House of Representatives, and six citizens, 
no two of whom may be from the same State, though two 

1 The law as amended on March 12, 1894, no honorary member has been elected since 
omits the phrase " such other persons as the year 1873. 
they may elect honorary memljers," and 2 See "Smithsonian Report," 1853, page 98. 

The Board of Regents 


must be residents of the city of Washington. The presid- 
ing officer of the Board of Regents is the Chancellor of the 
Smithsonian Institution, who is elected by the Board of 
Regents from among their own number. This office has, 
however, always been held either by the Vice-President or 
by the Chief Justice.^ 

The executive officer of the Board of Regents is the Sec- 
retary of the Institution, who is elected by them. The duties 
and responsibilities of Secretary are such as in other institu- 
tions usually belong to the office of Director : the name by 
which this officer is designated is that which in Washington 
is associated with the highest grade of executive responsibil- 
ity. The Secretary makes all appointments on the staff, the 
members of which are technically his "assistants." He is re- 
sponsible for the expenditure and disbursement of all funds of 
the Institution, is the legal custodian of all its property, and, 
ex officio, its librarian and the keeper of its museum. 

He presents to the Regents an annual report upon the 
operations, expenditures, and condition of the Establishment, 
which is transmitted by the Board to Congress for publica- 
tion. By a special act of Congress in 1879 and amended in 
1884, an Acting Secretary is provided for, in case of the ab- 
sence or disability of the Secretary, the designation being left 
with the Chancellor of the Institution. 

1 Vice-President Dallas was the first Chan- 
cellor, and was succeeded by Vice-President 
Fillmore. When Mr. Fillmore was elevated 
to the Presidency of the United States, in 
1850, Chief Justice Taney was elected Chan- 
cellor. In 1857 Mr. Taney resigned the 
place on the ground that the Vice-President, 
the liighest in rank of the ofticers of the gov- 
ernment who are ex officio Regents, was the 
proper person to preside. " Unfortunate 
events," he continued, " have for some time 
past left the government without a Vice-Pres- 
ident elected by the people. And when that 
office was vacant the Regents conferred on 
me the office, which had always before been 


filled by the Vice-President. And "when I 
accepted it I regarded the appointment as a 
temporary one. The reason for the appoint- 
ment has now happily ceased, and I desire to 
give the Regents an opportunity of restoring 
the original plan of organization, in which I 
fully concurred when it was adopted." Mr. 
Breckinridge, Vice-President of the United 
States, who was present at this meeting, 
moved that the present Chancellor, Chief Jus- 
tice Taney, be reelected to that oftice. The 
precedent thus established of electing the 
Chief Justice to be Chancellor of the Institu- 
tion has never since been abandoned. 

62 The Sniithsoiiian Institution 

The first meeting of the Regents for the purpose of or- 
ganization was held on September 7, 1846, in a room in the 
Patent Office building, assigned for the purpose by the 
President of the United States. 

At this meeting were present George M. Dallas, of Penn- 
sylvania, Vice-President of the United States; Roger B. 
Taney, of Maryland, Chief Justice of the United States ; Wil- 
liam W. Seaton, Mayor of the city of Washington ; Senator 
George Evans, of Maine ; Senator Isaac S. Pennybacker, of 
Virginia; Robert Dale Owen, Representative from Indiana; 
William J. Hough, Representative from New York ; Henry 
W. Hilliard, Representative from Alabama; the Honorable 
Rufus Choate, of Massachusetts; Doctor Gideon Hawley, of 
New York; and Richard Rush, of Pennsylvania, citizens at 
large; Doctor Alexander Dallas Bache and Colonel Joseph 
G. Totten representing the National Institute of Washing- 
ton. Senator Sidney Breese, of Illinois, was present at sub- 
sequent meetings during the course of organization. 

Since the date of organization, the Board of Regents have 
held 218 meetings, an average of about four to each year. 
The record of their proceedings up to 1876 occupies a volume 
of three hundred pages, and if extended up to the present 
year would require four hundred pages.-^ This record, it need 
scarcely be said, relates only to the actual transactions of the 
Board and its committees at its regular meetings. The re- 
ports of the Board to Congress occupy fifty volumes, includ- 
ing in all about thirty-eight thousand pages. 

The regular annual meetings of the Board are held in 
January. Since January, 1890, the day has been fixed for the 
fourth Wednesday of the month. 

The Executive Committee of the Regents provided for by 

1 "The Smithsonian Institution : Journals J. Rhees, Washington; published by the 
of the Board of Regents, Re|)orts of Com- Smithsonian Institution, 1879. Octavo, pages 
mittee's Statistics," etc. Edited by William v-vii, 844. 

The Board of Regents (>z 

the law holds quarterly meetings for the purpose of auditing 
the accounts for expenditures made in accordance with the 
appropriations voted by the Board at its annual meeting. 
The Executive Committee has also customarily performed 
the duties of a Committee of Ways and Means, besides acting 
upon many matters directly referred to it by the Board. Two 
of its members have always been the two Regents resident in 
Washington, and the third some other member, not a Sena- 
tor or Representative, living near enough to Washington to 
be readily accessible. The Executive Committee, therefore, 
soon became an Advisory Committee, practically always in 
session, which the Secretary constantly consults in regard 
to the interpretation of questions of policy, and the method 
of carrying out the instructions of the Board. The citizen 
residents have usually served for longer periods than others 
as members of the Executive Committee, and many of them 
have become intimately associated with the executive work 
of the organization. 

Since the organization of the Board of Regents, fifty years 
ago, the names of 129 persons have appeared upon its roll. 
Among these are a large number of the most distinguished 
citizens of the United States, — men eminent in statesmanship 
and diplomacy, in governmental administration, in science, 
in literature, and in arts. Each one of these has contributed 
his share to the prosperity of the Institution by his counsel 
and good judgment. 

The long list of distinguished names here given shows 
how carefully the Regents have been selected, so that repre- 
sentative men from every section of the Union might be in- 
cluded in that important body. 

From the Middle States: William J. Hough, Gideon Haw- 
ley, Millard Fillmore, Samuel Sullivan Cox, John V. L. 
Pruyn, William B. Astor, William A. Wheeler, Andrew D. 

64 The Smithsonian Institution 

White, and Levi P. Morton, from New York ; William L. 
Dayton, Professor John Maclean, of Princeton University, 
and William Walter Phelps, from New Jersey ; George M, 
Dallas, Richard Rush, Edward McPherson, Hiester Clymer, 
Robert Adams, Jr., and President Henry Coppee, of Lehigh 
University, from Pennsylvania. 

From the Southern States : Chief Justice Taney, Henry 
Winter Davis, James A. Pearce, from Maryland ; Isaac S. 
Pennybacker, James M. Mason, Robert E. Withers, General 
Joseph E. Johnston, from Virginia ; William R. King, George 
E. Badger, from North Carolina ; William C. Preston, from 
South Carolina; William F. Colcock, Robert M. Charlton, 
John M. Berrien, Hiram Warner, Lucius J. Gartrell, Benjamin 
H. Hill, and Alexander H. Stevens, from Georgia; General 
Henry W. Hillard and General Joseph Wheeler, from Ala- 
bama; Jefferson Davis, Otho R. Singleton, Randall L. Gibson, 
from Mississippi ; President William Preston Johnson, of 
Tulane University, from Louisiana; Garrett Davis, John 
Cabell Breckinridge, John W. Stevenson, and William C. P. 
Breckinridge, from Kentucky ; Andrew Johnson, from Ten- 
nessee ; William Lyne Wilson, from West Virginia ; Samuel B. 
Maxey, from Texas. 

From the New England States: Rufus Choate, Henry Wil- 
son, E. Rockwood Hoar, George F. Hoar, Cornelius C. Fel- 
ton. Professor Louis Agassiz and Professor Asa Gray, of 
Harvard University, and Henry Cabot Lodge, from Massa- 
chusetts ; Lafayette S. Foster, President Theodore D. Wool- 
sey, Noah Porter, and Professor James Dwight Dana, of Yale 
College, from Connecticut ; James W. Patterson, from New 
Hampshire ; George P. Marsh, James Meacham, Luke P. 
Poland, Justin S. Morrill, and George F. Edmunds, from 
Vermont; George Evans, William Pitt Fessenden, Hannibal 
Hamlin, Nathan Clifford, from Maine, 

The Board of Regents 65 

From the Western States : Benjamin Stanton, Salmon P. 
Chase, Benjamin F. Wade, James A. Garfield, Chief Justice 
Waite, Ezra B. Taylor, John Sherman, and Benjamin Butter- 
worth, from Ohio ; Robert Dale Owen, Graham N. Fitch, 
Thomas A. Hendricks, William H. English, and Schuyler 
Colfax, from Indiana; Sidney Breese, Stephen A. Douglas, 
Lyman Trumbull, John F. Farnsworth, Shelby M. Cullom, 
David Davis, and Chief Justice Fuller, from Illinois; George 
W. McCrary, Stephen F. Miller, and Nathaniel C. Deering, 
from Iowa; Robert McClelland, Lewis Cass, David Stuart, 
Thomas W. Ferry, and President James B. Angell, of the 
University, from Michigan ; Gerry W. Hazleton, from Wis- 
consin ; John J. Ingalls, from Kansas; George Gray, from 
Delaware ; and Aaron A. Sargent and Newton Booth, from 

As representatives from the District of Columbia, the fol- 
lowing Mayors of Washington served from 1846 to 187 1, 
ex officio, upon the Board of Regents : 

William Winston Seaton, Walter Lenox, John W. Maury, 
John T. Towers, William B. Magruder, Joseph G. Berret, 
Richard Wallach, Sayles J. Bowen, and Matthew G. Emery ; 
followed in 1872 by Henry D. Cooke, and in 1874 by Alex- 
ander R. Shepherd, Governors of the District. 

Those who have served as citizens from the city of Wash- 
ington have been Professor Alexander D. Bache, Superinten- 
dent of the United States Coast Survey ; General Joseph 
G. Totten, U. S. A. ; General Robert Delafield, U. S. A. ; 
the Reverend Peter Parker, D. D, ; General William T. Sher- 
man, U, S. A.; George Bancroft; General Montgomery C. 
Meigs, U. S. A.; President James C. Welling, of Columbian 
University; ex-Senator John B. Henderson; and Gardiner 
G. Hubbard. 

Among the Congressional Regents, those who were long- 

66 The Smithsonian Institution 

est in service were : Representative Samuel S. Cox, from 
1861 to 1865, from 1870 to 1875, from 1882 to 1883, a"'^ 
again from 1888 to 1889; Senator James A. Pearce, from 
1847 to 1862; Representative James A. Garfield, from 1865 
to 1873, ^'^'^ from 1878 to 1880; Senator James M. Mason, 
from 1849 to 1861 ; and Senator Justin S. Morrill, from 1883 
to the present. 

The chairmanship of the Executive Committee was held 
by Mayor Seaton from 1846 to 1849, by General Totten in 
1850 and again in 1862, by Professor Bache in 1851 and 
again in 1863, by Senator Pearce from 1852 to 1861, by 
Mayor Wallach in 1864 and 1865, by General Delafield from 
1866 to 1870, by Doctor Parker from 1871 to 1883, by Pro- 
fessor Maclean from 1884 to 1885, by President Welling 
from 1886 to 1893, by President Coppee in 1894, and by ex- 
Senator Henderson in 1895 and 1896. 

Upon the rolls of this committee also appear the names of 
Robert Dale Owen, General William T. Sherman, Honorable 
George Bancroft, General Montgomery C. Meigs, Honorable 
Gardiner G. Hubbard, and Honorable William L. Wilson. 

Among this company of distinguished men, including many 
of the Americans most eminent in their day, there have been 
some who had opportunities to identify themselves more ac- 
tively than others with the work. It would, perhaps, not be 
proper, or indeed possible, to make particular mention of any 
of these but for the fact that the Regents themselves have 
from time to time recorded in their Journal of Proceedings 
special words of commendation and appreciation of such of 
their associates as they considered to have rendered extraor- 
dinary services. 

On the occasion of the death of Richard Rush, at the meet- 
ing of the Board on January 28, i860, Senator Pearce, after 
alluding to the very important services rendered by him in 

The Board of Regents 67 

England for the recovery of the fund bequeathed by Smith- 
son, remarked : 

"The act of Congress of 1846 having established the 
Smithsonian Institution, he was appointed one of its first 
Regents, and was constantly continued by Congress a mem- 
ber of their Board. His zeal for the increase and diffusion of 
knowledge among men, and his sound judgment, contributed 
to the adoption of the system of operations which, so far, has 
borne the happiest fruits ; and his interest in and care for its 
successful management furnished one of the enjoyments of 
a tranquil old age, ' attended by reverence and troops of 
friends.' " 

At a meeting held January 31, 1863, Professor Bache, in his 
eulogy of Senator James Alfred Pearce, of Maryland, said : 

"Asfain has death invaded our circle, and taken from 
our councils and our active sympathies one of the most ad- 
mirably gifted intellects which has at any time been called 
upon to shape the destiny or direct the labors of the Smith- 
sonian Institution. A member of the Executive Committee 
from nearly the second year of the organization under the 
act of Congress of 1846, attentive to every detail, whether 
scientific, administrative, or financial, Mr. Pearce was always 
prompt at the call of every duty. His entire and cordial ac- 
quiescence in the form of organization adopted for the Insti- 
tution, his liberal and zealous cooperation with the Board of 
Regents, his earnest support of, and unfaltering confidence in, 
the discretion and integrity of its Secretary, were as conspicu- 
ous as they were productive of the most lasting and important 
benefits. And though it is true that the general form and 
policy of the Institution were determined under the authority of 
Congress, by the first Board of Regents, yet it is quite as cer- 
tain that strenuous action was afterwards needed to maintain 
it in its adopted course, and secure it from projected innova- 
tions which, though strenuously advocated at the time, few 
now regard with aught but disfavor. To this end no one 

68 The Srnithsoiiiaji htstitntion 

lent more effectual aid than our lamented colleagfue. Al- 
thouorh from taste and the conditions of his active life he 
might more properly be styled a literary man, yet were his 
scientific attainments by no means inconsiderable, and a lib- 
eral and cultivated mind, which admitted of no narrow views, 
enabled him to embrace, in all its comprehensive simplicity, 
the idea of the generous foreigner who, in founding this In- 
stitution, consecrated his fortune to 'the increase and diffu- 
sion of knowledge among men.' 

" The objects which in Congress occupied most of his at- 
tention, and which it gave him most pleasure to defend and 
sustain, were those connected with literature and science, and 
in these he showed the same qualities which, as chairman of 
our Executive Committee, he has here so often exhibited. 
With the great interests of State and the high objects of na- 
tional politics he was abundantly qualified to grapple ; in fact, 
he shrunk from no occasion in which to exert himself when 
enlarged views and skilful powers of debate could be ren- 
dered serviceable to his country or the world. But if duty 
called upon him from time to time for such efforts, still it was 
to objects promotive of art and science and high civilization, 
to means for man's moral and intellectual improvement, and 
the enlargement of his knowledge and power over nature, 
that he turned with ever new and unwearied interest. To 
him probably more than to any other Senator the library of 
Congress was indebted for the augmented fund which it has 
now for some years enjoyed, and for the care taken in the se- 
lection of the materials which render its shelves so useful. 
The exploring expedition was more than once indebted to his 
earnest and persistent efforts for the continuance of the means 
of publication of its results ; the Coast Survey for expositions 
of its importance to the country and the world ; the Smith- 
sonian for warding off assaults and reconciling enthusiastic 
but misguided opposition; the naval and military expeditions, 
boundary surveys, and explorations, for close, searching in- 
vestigations which led to important improvements and to cor- 

The Board of Regents 69 

dial support. The great work of the extension of the Capitol 
found in him a wise advocate and judicious friend. Not 
afraid of what was new, yet he aimed at nothing for the sake 
of novelty. In connection with the decoration of our public 
buildings, our sculptors and painters found in him a most en- 
lightened appreciator of their works, and one always ready to 
promote the great cause of their art by legitimate means." 

At the meeting of January 28, 1867, a resolution was 
passed referring to the long and gratuitous services of Wil- 
liam W. Seaton. In this connection. Professor Henry spoke 
of his association with the Institution in the following terms: 

" At the first meeting of the Board of Regents he was 
elected Treasurer, and subsequently one of the Building Com- 
mittee. The former office he continued to hold until the time 
of his death, and during the whole of this period, nearly 
twenty years, discharged its duties without other compensa- 
tion than the pleasure he derived from an association with 
the Institution, and the laudable pride he felt in contribut- 
ing to its prosperity and usefulness. It is well known that 
at the time of the organization of the Institution a wide 
diversity of opinion existed as to the practical means which 
would be most suitable for realizing the objects of the legacy. 
Mr. Seaton, on mature reflection, finally gave his cordial 
support to the policy which sought to impress on the Institu- 
tion a truly cosmopolitan character. He strenuously advo- 
cated the plan which the Secretary, then recently elected, had 
been invited to submit to the Board of Regents, and which 
looked to the advancement of knowledge chiefly through the 
encouragement and publication of original researches, a sys- 
tem which, without neglecting other available means for the 
promotion and difl'usion of scientific enlightenment, may be 
claimed, without undue pretension, to have made the Institu- 
tion favorably known, and to have exerted a well-recognized 
influence wherever men occupy themselves with intellectual 

70 The Smithsonian Institution 

"The relation borne by Mr. Seaton to the city of Wash- 
ington, the deHght with which he watched and aided its pro- 
gress, a certain native taste also for artistic embellishment, 
led him to take special interest in the architectural character 
of the Smithsonian building and the ornamentation of the 
public grounds around it. 

" Mr. Seaton was a constant attendant at the meetings of 
the Board of Regents, and from his familiarity with the early 
history of the Institution and the state of the funds, as well 
as from his long experience in public office, was enabled to 
offer suggestions, always marked by clearness of conception 
and soundness of judgment. The social attentions which he 
was accustomed to extend to the Regents, especially those 
who were called from abroad to attend the annual meetings, 
and to gentlemen invited to lecture before the Institution, 
were but the expression of his characteristic hospitality ; but 
by thus adding to the pleasure of their sojourn in Wash- 
ington, he contributed largely to increase the number of its 
friends and supporters. The columns of the ' National Intelli- 
gencer,' under his direction, were always open to the defense 
of the policy adopted and the course pursued by the Insti- 
tution, and he rarely failed to soften, by the courtesy of his 
manner and the moderation of his expressions, any irritable 
feeling which might arise in the discussion of conflicting 
opinions. It would, indeed, be difficult to say in how many 
and in what various ways he contributed to the popularity as 
well as to the true interests of the Institution. The Secretary, 
who was in the habit of conferring with him on all points 
requiring mature deliberation, may with justice acknowledge 
that he never failed to derive important assistance from the 
wisdom of his counsels." 

At a meeting on February 22, 1867, similar resolutions 
were passed in honor of the memory of Professor Alexander 
Dallas Bache, who had served as a Regent and one of the 
Executive Committee from its first organization to the time of 
his death. In a eulogy prepared by Professor Henry, at the 

The Board of Regents 71 

request of the Regents, the following statement in regard to 
his services, which were by the Secretary deemed more sig- 
nificant than those of any other of its early members, is 
made : 

*' In 1846 he had been named in the act of incorporation as 
one of the Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, and by 
successive reelection was continued by Congress in this 
office until his death, a period of nearly twenty years. To 
say that he assisted in shaping the policy of the Establish- 
ment would not be enough. It was almost exclusively through 
his predominating influence that the policy which has given 
the Institution its present celebrity was, after much opposition, 
finally adopted. The object of the donation, it will be re- 
membered, had been expressed in terms so concise that its 
import could scarcely be at once appreciated by the general 
public, though to the cultivators of science, to which class 
Smithson himself belonged, the language employed failed not 
to convey clear and precise ideas. Out of this state of things 
it is not surprising that difference of opinion should arise 
respecting the proper means to be adopted to realize the in- 
tentions of the founder of the Institution. Professor Bache, 
with persistent firmness, tempered by his usual moderation, 
advocated the appropriation of the proceeds of the funds 
principally to the plan set forth in the first report of the Sec- 
retary, namely, of encouraging and supporting original re- 
search in the different branches of science. Unfortunately 
this policy could only be partially adopted, on account of the 
restrictions of the enactment of Congress by which provision 
was to be made for certain specified objects. He strenuously 
opposed the contemplated expenditure of a most dispropor- 
tionate sum in the erection and maintenance of a costly edi- 
fice; but failing to prevent this, he introduced the resolution 
adopted by the Board as a compromise, whereby the mischief 
which he could not wholly avert might at least be lessened. 
This resolution provided that the time of the erection of the 
building should be extended over several years, while the 

72 The Sjuithsonian histitntion 

fund appropriated for the purpose, being in the mean time in- 
vested in a safe and productive manner, would serve in some 
degree to counterbalance the effect of the great and unneces- 
sary outlay which had been resolved on. It would be diffi- 
cult for the Secretary, however unwilling to intrude anything 
personal on this occasion, to forbear mentioning that it was 
entirely due to the persuasive influence of the Professor that 
he was induced, almost against his own better judgment, to 
leave the quiet pursuit of science and the congenial employ- 
ment of collegfe instruction to assume the laborious and 
responsible duties of the office to which, through the partial- 
ity of friendship, he had been called. Nor would it be pos- 
sible for him to abstain from acknowledging with heartfelt 
emotion that he was from first to last supported and sus- 
tained in his difficult position by the fraternal sympathy, the 
prudent counsel, and the unwavering friendship of the la- 
mented deceased. 

" His demeanor in the Board was quiet and unobtrusive, 
and his opinions sought no support in elaborated or premedi- 
tated argument ; but when a topic likely to lead to difficulty 
in discussion was introduced, he seldom failed, with that ad- 
mirable tact for which he was always noted, to dispose of it 
by some suggestion so judicious and appropriate as to secure 
ready acquiescence and harmonious action. The loss of such 
a man in the councils of the Institution, when we consider 
the characteristics which it has been our aim to portray, must, 
indeed, be regarded as little less than irreparable." 

At a meeting on December 19, 1873, Mr. Garfield, speaking 
of the death of Chief Justice Chase, said: 

"As the Chancellor of this Institution, we saw in happy 
and harmonious action his ample knowledge of our institu- 
tions, his wide experience of finance, his reverential love for 
science and art, and his unshaken faith in the future of his 
country as the grand theater for the highest development of 
all that is best and greatest in human nature. No contribu- 
tion to science offered to this Board escaped his attention. 

The Board of Regents 73 

Nothing that was high or worthy in human pursuits failed to 
elicit his appreciative and powerful support." 

At a meeting, January 18, 1882, Chancellor Waite thus 
referred to the services of President Garfield : 

" General Garfield first took his seat in Congress at the 
end of the year 1863. He was then but thirty-six years old. 

"At the beginning of his second term he was appointed a 
member of this Board by the Speaker of the House of Repre- 
sentatives, and was present at the meeting of February 3, 
1866. He continued to hold the same position until 1873, 
when another was appointed in his place. He appeared 
again, however, in 1878, and we were never afterwards de- 
prived of his counsels until he was elected President of the 
United States, which made him ex officio the presiding officer 
of the Smithsonian Institution. 

" From the beginning his presence here was felt. He was 
eminently fitted for such a trust. 

" He was himself a scholar, and the 'increase and diffusion 
of knowledge among men ' always gave him the greatest 

"At every meeting of the Board during his successive 
terms, when he could be present, his name appears among 
active and thoughtful members. He manifested his appre- 
ciation of the place he filled by always doing what it was his 
privilege to do, and doing it well. When on former occa- 
sions the Board has given expression to its feelings upon the 
death of a member his words of heartfelt sympathy have often 
been heard. The records show that he knew and appreciated 
the great and good qualities of Chief Justice Chase, and that 
he fully realized the debt science owed to Agassiz. But the 
crowning act of all was when, out of the fullness of his heart, 
at the memorial services in the hall of the House of Repre- 
sentatives, he made those who heard him feel how great the 
life of Professor Henry had been. 

" It is not for us to say he ought to have been spared 


74 The Smithsonian Institution 

longer. Few men seemed to possess greater power for good. 
He died as he lived, an honor to human nature." 

At a meeting on January 21, 1885, on the occasion of the 
resiofnation of Doctor Peter Parker from the Board, resolu- 
tions were passed expressing " high appreciation of the valu- 
able and efficient services he had rendered to the Institution, 
for, when required, he had worked without weariness and 
watched without flagging, even after he had begun to feel the 
burden of age." 

On the occasion of the death of Chancellor Waite, in 1888, 
it was by the Regents resolved : 

" That while an obvious sense of propriety must dictate 
that we should leave to others in that great forum which was 
the chosen arena of his life's career the sad privilege of depict- 
ing, with minute and detailed analysis, the remarkable com- 
bination of strong and lovely traits which met in the person 
of the late Chief Justice and gave to the symmetrical char- 
acter of our beloved friend its blended sweetness and light, 
we cannot omit, even in this hour of our special sorrow, to 
bear our cheerful testimony to the pleasing amenity with 
which he presided over the deliberations of this council 
chamber as the Chancellor of the Smithsonian Institution ; 
and sharing, as we all do, in a profound admiration for the 
intelligence he brought to our discussions while ever moder- 
ating them by the guidance of his clear thought and mild 
wisdom, we can but render our reverent homage to the en- 
gaging personal qualities which endeared him to us as a man, 
while at the same time gratefully confessing our obligations 
to him for the provident care and deep interest which he 
always brought to the discharge of his official duties in this 
place, where, through all the years of his honorable and use- 
ful service at the head of this Board, the Secretary of the In- 
stitution, in common with ourselves, has leaned on him as the 
wise and true counsellor who could be trusted as well for the 

The Board of Regents 75 

rectitude of his moral intuitions as for the clear perceptions 
of his calm and judicious intellect." 

At a meeting on January 18, 1889, on the occasion of the 
death of Professor Asa Gray, after fifteen years of service, a 
committee of Regents reported as follows : 

" Upon the Smithsonian Institution his loss falls with par- 
ticular weight, since his active interest in its welfare is almost 
continuous with its existence, for he was one of the Com- 
mittee of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the 
report of which upon the ' plan proposed for the organization 
of the Smithsonian Institution,' rendered in 1847, has exer- 
cised so active an influence upon the subsequent history of 
this Establishment. 

"Appointed a Regent in January, 1874, to succeed Pro- 
fessor Louis Agassiz, his efficient and active interest in the 
welfare of this Institution has been one of its most valuable 
possessions, and it is with deeper feeling than formal reso- 
lutions of regret usually convey that we now endeavor to 
express some part of our sense of irreparable loss." 

On the death of the Honorable Samuel S. Cox, in 1890, 
after a period of service as Regent which, though occasion- 
ally interrupted, continued in the neighborhood of thirty 
years, at a meeting of the Board on January 8, 1890, a com- 
mittee reported that — 

" While he was not a regular attendant at all the meetings 
of the Board, he was ever ready to advance the interests of the 
Institution and of science, either as a Regent or as a member 
of Congress ; and although such men as Hamlin, Fessen- 
den, Colfax, Chase, Garfield, Sherman, Gray, and Waite, in 
a list comprising Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Chief Justices, 
and Senators of the United States, were his associates, there 
were none whose service was longer or more gratefully to be 
remembered, nor perhaps any to whom the Institution owes 
more than to Mr. Cox." 

76 The Smithsoitiaji Institution 

In 1892, General Montgomery C. Meigs, U. S. A., who 
had been for seventeen years a member of the Executive 
Committee, died, and Doctor Coppee, in a memorial record 
presented at the annual meeting, said : 

" His valuable services to the Institution began, indeed, 
before he was officially connected with it as Regent, and con- 
tinued until his death, rendering most important service in 
1876 by designing the new building for the National Mu- 
seum, a marvel of economic design. Directly upon his en- 
trance into the Board, December 26, 1885, he became an 
active member of its Executive Committee. He was always 
present, extremely painstaking, and eminently judicious in 
his counsel and judgment on important points of business and 
policy. He had just been nominated as Regent for another 
term of six years when he was taken away from us by sudden 
illness. Few Regents have been of such importance to the 

Appropriate action was taken at the meeting held on Jan- 
uary 23, 1895, by the adoption of suitable resolutions in 
honor of the memory of President Welling. On that oc- 
casion Doctor Coppee said : 

" Doctor Welling was one of the most valuable citizens 
of Washington, to whom was confided many trusts, among 
them the presidency of the Columbian University and the 
chairmanship of the Executive Committee of this Institution ; 
and he did well everything that was confided to him. He 
was a man pure in thought, honest in purpose and action, 
and intelligent in judgment. He held a ready pen, and how 
polished his public utterances were, all here would remember 
who had heard him when he presented papers and other 
matters before this Board." 

Also the following tribute to his interest in the Institution 
was made by Secretary Langley : 

The Board of Regents TJ 

" I will only add, speaking of him still chiefly in his rela- 
tionship to this Institution, that in 1884 he was chosen one 
of its Regents, to succeed the Reverend Doctor Peter Parker. 
For ten years he gave conscientious attention to its interests, 
and upheld in every way those conservative and dignified 
traditions of which I have already spoken of him as almost 
the living embodiment ; and while he did this primarily be- 
cause of their harmony with his own personal tendencies and 
convictions as to their value, he did so also because of his 
affection and reverence for the first Secretary, Joseph Henry, 
whose pupil he had been in his youth, and with whom in 
middle life he maintained the relation of friend and confidant. 
After Henry's death, Doctor Welling consented to add to his 
already burdensome duties those of the chairman of the 
Executive Committee, which he performed till his own death, 
so that he may be said to have been a link between the past 
and the present in the history of this Institution, though 
happily not the only one, since it has preserved others in 
his contemporaries." 

The death of Doctor Henry Coppee was announced by 
the Chancellor at the meeting held on March 21, 1895. The 
following resolutions were presented by Senator Henderson : 

"That the Board of Regents feels sincere sorrow in the 
loss of one whose distinguished career as a soldier, a man of 
letters, and whose services in the promotion of education 
command their highest respect and admiration. That in the 
death of Doctor Coppee the Smithsonian Institution and the 
Board of Regents have suffered the loss of a tried and valued 
friend, a wise and prudent counsellor, whose genial courtesy, 
well-stored, disciplined mind, and sincere devotion to the in- 
terests of the Institution will be ever remembered." 

General Wheeler said that " forty years ago he was a pupil 
of Doctor Coppee, and from that time to his death, owing to 
various connections and associations, by correspondence and 


78 The Smithsonian Institutio7i 

by visit, he had known him, and therefore felt well fitted to 
speak of the high qualities referred to in the resolutions." 

It should be remembered, however, that the passing of 
resolutions and the delivery of eulogies have only been cus- 
tomary when a member of the Board has continued actively 
associated with the Institution until the time of his death. 
It should not be forgotten that several of the Regents who 
were most active in the defense of the Institution and in 
the advancement of its interests were so remote in time 
and place from the organization at the time of their death 
that no reference to their services stand recorded upon the 

In this connection, then, it seems but just to refer to the 
activities of Robert Dale Owen, in securing the passage of 
the act organizing the Institution, and as chairman of its 
Building Committee ; the intense interest shown by Rufus 
Choate, in the promotion of the library and bibliographical 
work of the Institution in its days of organization, thus sup- 
plementing the valuable services rendered at a still earlier 
day in the Senate in preventing the diversion of the fund to 
unworthy ends ; the courageous attitude of Henry W. Mil- 
liard, of Alabama, in defending the Institution and its Re- 
gents from an attack in the House of Representatives on the 
part of Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, who desired to see 
the organization, still in its infancy, destroyed ; the effective 
service of Jefferson Davis, in preventing the repudiation by 
the government of the responsibility which it had incurred 
by ordering the investment of the Smithson bequest in State 
bonds which had become worthless, and in securing the res- 
toration to the Treasury of the money thus misapplied and 
lost; also the bold stand taken by Mr. Davis in 1850, in the 
Senate, resisting the demand to force upon the Institution 
the miscellaneous collection of curiosities then housed in the 

The Board of Regents 79 

Patent Office and called "The National Cabinet of Curiosi- 
ties," without financial provision for its maintenance. 

Reviewing the history of fifty years, one cannot fail to be 
impressed with the belief that Congress acted with great wis- 
dom in determining the character of the corporation to which 
it intrusted the affairs of the Institution. It was at first pro- 
posed that the Directors of the Institution should be citizens, 
selected like those of private institutions, without reference to 
official connection with the orovernment durin^: their time of 
service. The plan finally adopted brought the Smithsonian 
Institution into much closer relationship with the govern- 
ment, securing for it the administrative supervision of a body 
of men the majority of whom have always been thoroughly 
representative members of the executive and legislative 
branches of the government ; men in the prime of their vigor 
and trained to the highest administrative responsibilities. To 
be a Regent of the Institution has always been regarded as a 
high honor, and those who have held this position, as mem- 
bers of the Senate and House of Representatives, have been, 
without exception, eminent for scholarship and general cul- 
ture, as well as in statesmanship. The citizen members of 
the Board associated with them have been equally eminent 
in the fields of scientific, literary, and educational work. 

Being residents of Washington during their terms of ser- 
vice, the majority of this group of wise and experienced ad- 
ministrators had the opportunity of acquiring familiarity witli 
the activities of the Institution from day to day, and have, 
without special effort, controlled and regulated all its work. 
Familiar with affairs, able to feel, almost unconsciously, the 
workings of manifold interests simultaneously in operation, in 
constant communication with the executive officers of the Es- 
tablishment, the supervision which they have exercised has 
been of the most wholesome and effective character. 

8o The Smithsonian Institution 

Notwithstanding the fears so generally entertained fifty 
years ago, the Institution has never, in any respect, fallen 
under the influence of political interference. No member of 
its staff has ever been appointed because of the influence of 
powerful friends or for any reason except that he was believed 
to be the best man available for the place. No sinecures have 
been created, and no breath of suspicion has ever tarnished 
the reputation of any officer or employee. 

Since this can be said in regard to the first fifty years of the 
Smithsonian Institution, it may fairly be claimed as demon- 
strated that the plan of organization was wisely and judi- 
ciously conceived. 

Regents of the Smithsonian Institution 

Biographical Notices by William Jones Rhees 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 20, 1895. 

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 26, 1849. A. B., University 
of Pennsylvania, 1869. Ph. B., Wharton School of Economy and Finance, 
University of Pennsylvania, 1884. Admitted to the Bar. Member of United 
States Geological Survey, i87i-'75. Member of Pennsylvania Senate, 1883- 
'87. U. S. Minister to Brazil, 1889-90. Member of U. S. House of Repre- 
sentatives from Pennsylvania, January 3, 1894- March 4, 1899. 



Regent elected by Congress, February 21, 1863 ; reelected March 2, 1869. 

Bom in Motier, Canton Fribourg, Switzerland, May 28, 1807 ; died in Cam- 
bridge, Massachusetts, December 14, 1873. Educated in College of Lausanne, 
1823. Studied medicine in Zurich, 1824, also in Heidelberg and Munich. 
M. D., Munich, 1829. Ph. D., Erlangen, 1830. LL. D., Edinburgh, 1834; 
Dublin, 1835; and Harvard, 1848. Member of French Academy of Sciences, 
1836. Professor of Natural History in College of Neuchatel, Switzerland, 1832. 
Professor of Zoology and Geology in Lawrence Scientific School, Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, 1848. Professor of Comparative Anatomy and Zoology in the 
Medical College, Charleston, South Carolina, 1851-54. Curator of the Mu- 

The Board of Regents 8i 

seum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1859. Professor 
(non-resident) of Natural History, Cornell University, 1868. Director 
Penikese Island School of Natural History, 1873. Original member National 
Academy of Sciences, 1863. Received Monthyon prize from the Academy 
of Paris, and Wollaston medal from the London Geological Society. 



Regent elected by Congress, January 19, 1887 ; reelected January 9, 1893. 

Born in Scituate, Rhode Island, January 7, 1829. Educated in Seekonk, 
Massachusetts, and North Scituate, Rhode Island. A. B., Brown, 1849. LL. D., 
Brown, 1868; and Columbia, 1887. Professor of Modern Languages and Lit- 
erature in Brown University, 1853. Y.i\\\.ox rnn'idcuce Daily Journal, i86o-'66. 
President of University of Vermont, 1 866-71. President of University of 
Michigan, i87i-'96. U. S. Minister to China, 1880-82. Commissioner to 
negotiate a new treaty with China. Commissioner to form treaty with Great 
Britain in settlement of the fisheries dispute, i887-'88. 



Regent ex officio, as Vice-President of the United States, March 4, 1881. 

Born in Fairfield, Vermont, October 5, 1830; died in New York City, No- 
vember 18, 1886. A. B., Union, 1848. LL. D., Princeton, 1884; and 
Union, 1884. Principal of an Academy in North Pownal, Bennington County, 
Vermont, 1851. Admitted to the Bar, New York, 1853. Engineer-in-Chief, 
as Brigadier-General on Governor Morgan's staft", January i, 1861. Acting 
Quartermaster-General of New York. Inspector-General, 1862. Collector of 
the Port of New York, 1871-78. Vice-President of the United States, 1881. 
President of the United States, July 20, 1881-84. 



Regent elected by Congress, March 2, 1861. 

Born in New York City, September 19, 1792 ; died in New York, November 
24, 1875. Educated in public schools, New York; later in Heidelberg and 
Gottingen. Engaged with his father John Jacob Astor in trade with China, 
i8i5-'27. President of the American Fur Company, 1827. Gave $550,000 
to the Astor Library, 



Regent elected by Congress, August 10, 1846; reelected January 13, 1853, 

January 17, 1859. 

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 19, 1806; died in Newport, Rhode 
Island, February 17, 1867. Graduated United States Military Academy, West 

82 The Smithsoiiimi histitntion 

Point, New York, 1825. A. M., Yale, 1830. LL. D., University of the City 
of New York, 1836; University of Pennsylvania, 1837; and Harvard, 1851. 
Assistant Professor of Engineering in United States Military Academy, 1826. 
Lieutenant of Engineers, 1827-29. Engaged in constructing Fort Adams 
and other pubHc works. President of Girard College, Philadelphia, 1832-39. 
Professor of Mathematics in University of Pennsylvania, iS27-'32. Professor 
of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry in University of Pennsylvania, 1828-41, 
and 1842-43. Principal of Central High School, Philadelphia, i84i-'42. 
Superintendent of Public Schools. Superintendent United States Coast Sur- 
vey, November, i843-'67. Vice-President United States Sanitary Commis- 
sion. President American Philosophical Society, 1855. President American 
Association for the Advancement of Science, 1850. Original Member and 
President National Academy of Sciences, 1863. 


Regent elected by Congress, February 27, 1856; reelected January 17, 1859. 

Born in Nevvbern, North Carolina, April 13, 1795; died in Raleigh, North 
Carolina, May II, 1866. A. B., Yale, 1813. A. M., Yale, 1825. LL. D., Uni- 
versity of North Carolina, 1834; and Yale, 1848. Admitted to the Bar in 
Raleigh, North Carolina. Major in War of 181 2. North Carolina State 
Legislature, i8i6-'2o. Judge of North Carolina Superior Court, i82o-'25. 
Secretary of the Navy, March, 1841. Member of U. S. Senate from North 
Carolina, December 7, 1846-March 3, 1855, 


Regent elected by Congress, December 11, 1874. 

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, October 3, 1800; died in Washington 
City, January 17, 1891. Educated in Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hamp- 
shire. A. B., Harvard, 181 7. Ph. D., University of G5ttingen, 1820. D. C. L., 
Oxford, 1849. D. J., University of Bonn, 1868. LL.D., Harvard, 1843; 
and Union, 1840. L. H. D., Columbia, 1843. Tutor in Harvard. Principal 
of Round Hill School, Northampton, Massachusetts, 1824. Elected to Massa- 
chusetts Legislature, 1830. Collector of the Port of Boston, i838-'4i. Can- 
didate for Governor of Massachusetts, 1844. Secretary of the Navy, 1845. 
Acting Secretary of War, 1846. U. S. Minister to Great Britain, i846-'49. 
U. S. Minister to Prussia, 1867. U. S. Minister to North German Confeder- 
ation, 1868. U. S, Mmister to Germany, 1871-74. 


Regent ex officio, as Mayor of Washington, June, 1858-June, i860. 

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, February 12, 1815. Member of House of 
Delegates of Maryland, 1837-39. Clerk in Register of Treasury's office, 

The Board of Regents 83 

Washington City, 1839-48. Chief Clerk of Pension Bureau, 1848-49. 
Postmaster of VVashington City, 1853-58. Mayor of Washington City, 
i858-'6r. Apj)ointe{l Commissioner by President Lincohi on Abolition 
of Slavery in the District of Columbia, 1862. Member of Washington Police 
Board, i875-'77. Elector for Maryland, and President of the Electoral 
College, 1888. Member of Maryland Legislature and Chairman of Com- 
mittee of Ways and Means, 1891. First Vice-President of Washington Na- 
tional Monument Society. 


Regent elected by Congress, January 13, 1853. 

Born in New Jersey, August 23, 1781 ; died in Savannah, Georgia, January 
I, 1856. A. B., Princeton, 1796. LL. D., Princeton, 1829; University of 
Georgia, 1850; and University of Alabama, 1852. Admitted to the Bar in 
Georgia, 1799. Solicitor-General of Georgia, 1809. Judge of Eastern Cir- 
cuit, 1810. Colonel in War of 1812. Member of Georgia Legislature, 1822. 
Member of U. S. Senate from Georgia, i824-'29, i84o-'46, and i847-'52. 
Attorney-General of United States, 1829. Judge of Supreme Court of 
Georgia, i845-'47. 


Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed March 21, 1879. 

Born in Salem, Lidiana, December 25, 1825; died in Sacramento, Califor- 
nia, July 14, 1892. A. B., Asbury University, 1846. LL. D., De Pauw, 
1872. Admitted to the Bar in Tcrre Haute, Indiana, 1850. Member of 
California State Senate, 1863. Governor of California, i87i-'74. Member of 
U. S. Senate from California, March 9, 1875-March 3, 1881. 


Regent r^ ^<rw, as Mayor of Washington, June, 1868-June, 1870. 

Bom in Scipio, Cayuga County, New York, October 7, 18 13; died in 
Washington City, December 16, 1896. Educated in Aurora Academy, New 
York. Clerk in United States Treasury Department, 1845-48. Commis- 
sioner of Police in District of Columbia, 1861. Disbursing Officer of United 
States Senate, 1861. Collector of Internal Revenue, 1862. Postmaster 
City of Washington, 1863-68. Mayor City of Washington. June, 1868- 
June, 1870. Trustee and Treasurer of Public Schools for Colored Children 
in the District of Columbia, to which he devoted much time, labor, and 

84 The Smithsonian Instihition 



Regent ex officio, as Vice-President of the United States, March 4, 1857- 

March 4, 1861. 

Born near Lexington, Kentucky, January 21, 1821; died in Lexington, 
Kentucky, May 17, 1875. A. B., Centre College, 1841. LL. D., Centre, 
1857. Studied law at Transylvania Institute. Admitted to the Bar, Lexing- 
ton, Kentucky. Major in Mexican War. Member of Kentucky Legislature. 
Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Kentucky, December i, 
1851-March 3, 1855. Declined the Spanish Mission. Vice-President of the 
United States, 1857. Member of U. S. Senate from Kentucky, March 4, 
1861-December 4, 1861. Major-General Confederate Army, 1862. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed January 15, 1892; 

reappointed January 4, 1894. 

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, August 28, 1837. Admitted to the Bar in 
Louisville, Kentucky, 1857. Educated in Transylvania University and Centre 
College. LL. B., University of Louisville, 1857. A. M., Centre College, 1855. 
LL. D., Cumberland University, 1874 , Central University, 1881 ; and Centre 
College, 1886. Captain and Colonel Confederate Army, 1862. Professor 
in Cumberland University. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from 
Kentucky, March 4, 1885-March 4, 1895. 


Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed August 10, 1846. 

Born in Whitesborough, New York, July 15, 1800; died in Pinckneyville, 
Illinois, June 27, 1878, Educated in Hamilton College. A. B., Union, 
1818. LL. D., Union, 1871. Admitted to the Bar in Illinois, 1821. Assis- 
tant Secretary, State of Illinois. Postmaster of Kaskaskia, Illinois, 1800. At- 
torney-General of Illinois, i822-'27. Attorney of the United States for Il- 
linois, 1827. Lieutenant in Black Hawk War. Circuit Judge, 1835. Member 
of U. S. Senate from Illinois, December 4, 1843-March 3, 1849. Speaker of 
Illinois House of Representatives, 1850. Chief Judge of Circuit Court, 
Illinois, 1855. Justice of Supreme Court of Illinois, i857-'78. 


Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed January 6, 1890. 

Born in Warren County, Ohio, October 22, 1837. Educated in public 
schools and Ohio University. Graduated in Cincinnati Law College, 186 1. 
Admitted to the Bar. Member of Ohio Senate, i873-'75. Member of U. S. 

The Board of Regents 85 

House of Representatives from Ohio, March i8, 1879-March 3, 1883, De- 
cember 7, 1885-March 4, 1891. U. S. Commissioner of Patents, 1883. Sec- 
retary and Solicitor-General of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed January 18, 1847. 

Born in Exeter, New Hampshire, October 9, 1782 ; died in Detroit, Michi- 
gan, June 17, 1866. Eklucated in Exeter Academy. LL. D, Hamilton, 1825 ; 
Harvard, 1836; and Jefferson, 1837. Admitted to the Bar in Marietta, Ohio, 
1802. Member of Ohio Legislature, 1807. Marshal of Ohio, i8o7-'i3. Colo- 
nel and Brigadier-General in War of 181 2. Governor of Michigan, 1813-31. 
Secretary of War, 1831-36. Minister to France, 1836-42. Member of 
U. S. Senate from Michigan, December i, 1845-August 14, 1848, December 
3, 1849-March 3, 185 1. Secretary of State, 1857-60. Negotiated many 
treaties with the Indians. Candidate for President, 1848. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed August 24, 1852. 

Born in Savannah, Georgia, January 19, 1807 ; died in Savannah, Georgia, 
January 18, 1854. Admitted to the Bar, 1825. Member of Georgia Legisla- 
ture. U. S. District Attorney. Judge of the Supreme Court of Eastern 
Georgia, 1834. Member of U. S. Senate from Georgia, December 6, 1852- 
March 3, 1853. Mayor of Savannah, Georgia. 



Regent ex officio, as Chief Justice of the United States, December 6, 1864. 

Born in Cornish, New Hampshire, January 13, 1808; died in Washington 
City, May 7, 1873. Educated in Cincinnati College. A. B., Dartmouth, 1826. 
LL. D., Miami, 1865. Admitted to the Bar, 1829. Member of U. S. Senate 
from Ohio, December 3, 1849-March 3, 1855. Governor of Ohio, 1855-57. 
Elected to U. S. Senate from Ohio, i860. Secretary of the Treasury, i86i-'64. 
Chief Justice of the United States, 1864-73. 



Regent elected by Congress, August 10, 1846; reelected December 19, 1848, and 

December 27, 1854. 

Born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, October i, 1799; died in Halifax, Nova 
Scotia, July 12, 1859. Tutor in Dartmouth College. A. B. and A. M., Dart- 
mouth,' 1819. LL. D.. Yale, 1844: Harvard, 1845; Dartmouth, 1845; and 
Amherst, 1848. Studied law in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Washington 
City. Admitted to the Bar in Dan vers, Massachusetts, 1824. Member of 

86 The Smithsonian histitittion 

Massachusetts Legislature, 1825-28. Member of U. S. House of Repre- 
sentatives from Massachusetts, December 6, 1830-July 30, 1834. Member 
of U. S. Senate from Massachusetts, May 31, 1841-August 10, 1846. 



Regent ex officio, as Acting Chief Justice of the United States, May 7, 1873, and 
Chancellor /r£» tern, pending the appointment of a Chief Justice. 

Born in Rumney, New Hampshire, August 18, 1803; died in Cornish, 
Maine, July 25, 1881. Educated in Haverhill Academy and Hampton Liter- 
ary Institution. LL. D., Bowdoin, i860; Dartmouth, 1862 ; Brown, 1868; and 
Harvard, 1878. Admitted to the Bar in New Hampshire, 1827. Member of 
Maine Legislature and Speaker, i83o-'34. Attorney-General of Maine, 1834- 
'38. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Maine, December 2, 
1839-March 3, 1843. Attorney-General of the United States, i846-'48. Com- 
missioner to Mexico, 1849. v. S. Minister to Mexico, 1848-49. justice of 
United States Supreme Court, 1858-81. Member of the Electoral Commis- 
sion, 1876. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 14, 1875 ; 
reappointed January 14, 1878, and April 4, 1879. 

Born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, November 3, 1827; died in Read- 
ing, Pennsylvania, June 12, 1884. Educated in public schools, Reading. 
A, B., Princeton, 1847. Admitted to the Bar, 1849. Member of Pennsylvania 
Legislature, i860. Candidate for Governorship of Pennsylvania, 1866. Mem- 
ber of the State Board of Public Charities, 1870. Member of U. S. House of 
Representatives from Pennsylvania, December i, 1873-March 4, 1881. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed January 7, 1850; 
reappointed January 2, 1852, and January 11, 1853. 

Bom in Beaufort, South Carolina, November 5, 1804; died in Charleston, 
South Carolina, June 13, 1889. A. B., South Carolina College, 1823. Admitted 
to the Bar. Member of South Carolina Legislature. Speaker of South Caro- 
lina House. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from South Carolina, 
/ December 3, 1849-March 3, 1853. Collector of Port of Charleston. 



Regent on liehalfofthe House of Representatives, appointed December 19, 1861. 'Kq- 
g&nXex officio, as Vice-President of the United States, March 4, i869-March4, 1873. 

Born in New York City, March 23, 1823; died in Mankato, Minnesota, 
January 13, 1885. Educated in public schools. New York City, Ad- 

The Board of Regents 87 

mitted to the Bar, Indiana, 1836. Member of Indiana State Constitutional 
Convention, 1850. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Indiana, 
December 3, 1855-March 4, 1869. Speaker of the U. S. House of Repre- 
sentatives, i863-'68. Vice-President of the United States, March 4, 1869- 
March 4, 1873. 



Regent ex officio, as Governor of the District of Columbia, February 28, 1871- 

September 13, 1873. 

Born in Sandusky, Ohio, November 23, 1825 ; died in Georgetown, District 
of Cokimbia, February 24, 1881. Educated in Allegheny College. A. B., 
Transylvania University, 1844. Admitted to the Bar in Sandusky, Ohio, and 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Attache to American Consul in Valparaiso, Chile, 
1846. Presidential Elector, 1856. Journalist in Philadeljjhia, Sandusky, and 
Columbus, Ohio. First Governor of District of Columbia, February 28, 187 1- 
September 13, 1873. 



Regent elected by Congress, January 19, 1874; reelected December 19, 1879, 
December 26, 1885, and January 26, 1892. 

Born in Savannah, Georgia, October 13, 1821; died in Bethlehem, Penn- 
sylvania, March 22, 1895. Educated in Yale, 1839. Graduated United States 
Military Academy, 1845. A. M., University of Georgia, 1848. LL. D., 
Union, 1866; and University of Pennsylvania, 1866. Served through Mexican 
War, brevetted Captain, 1847. Professor of French, i848-'49; Professor of 
Geography, History, and Ethics, i85o-'55; Assistant Professor of Geogra- 
phy, History, and Ethics, U. S. Military Academy, 1855. Professor of Eng- 
lish Literature and History, University of Pennsylvania, 1855-66. President 
of Lehigh University, 1866-79, '9°' '93~'95- Professor of English Literature 
and History, and of International and Constitutional Law, Lehigh University, 
1874-95. U, S. Assay Commissioner, 1874 and 1880. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 19, 1861 ; 
reappointed December 23, 1863, February 2, 1870, December 18, 1873, January 
9, 1882, and January 5, 1888. 

Boni in Zanesville, Ohio, September 30, 1824; died in New York City, 
September 10, 1889. Educated in public schools, Zanesville, Ohio. A. B., 
Brown University, 1846. A. M., Brown. LL. D., Brown, 1S85. Admitted 
to the Bar, Cincinnati, Ohio. Secretary of Legation to Peru, 1855. Mem- 
ber of U. S. House of Representatives \xoxxv Ohio, December 6, 1857-March 

3, 1865. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from New York, March 

4, 1869-March 3, 1885, December 5, 1887-March 3, 1889. U. S. Minister 
to Turkey, i885-'86. 


88 The Smithsonian histitution 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed March 23, 1885 ; reappointed March 28, 

1889, and December 18, 1895. 

Born in Wayne County, Kentucky, November 22, 1829. Educated in Rock 
River Seminary, Mount Morris, Illinois. Admitted to the Bar in Spring- 
field, Illinois, 1855, City Attorney of Springfield, 1855. Presidential Elector, 
1856. Member of the Illinois Legislature, i856-'6o, i872-'74, and its 
Speaker, 1861, '73. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Illinois, 
December 4, 1865-March 3, 187 1. Governor of Illinois, January 8, 1877- 
February 5, 1883. Member of U. S. Senate from Illinois, December 4, 1883- 
March 3, 1901. 



Regent ex officio, as Vice-President of the United States, August 10, 1846- 

March 4, 1849. 

Born in Philadelphia, July 10, 1792; died in Philadelphia, December 31, 
1864. A. B., Princeton, 1810. LL. D., Princeton, 1854. Admitted to the 
Bar, 1813. Secretary of the Russian Commission, i8i3-'i4. Deputy Attor- 
ney-General for Philadelphia County, 18 17. Mayor of Philadelphia, 1829. 
U. S. Attorney for Pennsylvania, 1829-31. Member of U. S. Senate from 
Pennsylvania, December 5, 1831-March 2, 1833. Attorney-General of Penn- 
sylvania, 1833-35. U. S. Minister to Russia, 1837-39. Vice-President of 
the United States, i845-'49. U. S. Minister to Great Britain, i856-'6i. 


Regent elected by Congress, January 19, 1874; resigned December 27, 1877. 

Born in Utica, New York, February 13, 1813; died in New Haven, 
Connecticut, April 14, 1895. Educated in Bartlett Academy, Utica, New 
York. A. B., Yale, 1833. Ph. D., Munich, 1872. LL. D., Amherst, 1853; 
Harvard, 1886; and Edinburgh, 1889. Instructor of Mathematics to United 
States Naval Officers, 1833-36. Assistant in Chemistry, Yale, i836-'38. 
Mineralogist, Geologist, and Zoologist of the United States Exploring Expe- 
dition, i836-'42. Silliman Professor of Natural History and Geology in Yale, 
i85o-'9o. YA\ior oi American Journal of Science, 1846-95. Received Wol- 
laston and Copley medals and Grand Walker prize. President of American 
Association for the Advancement of Science, 1854. Original Member National 
Academy of Sciences, 1863. 



Regent ex officio, as President of the Senate pro tern., October 13, 1881- 

March 4, 1883. 

Born in Cecil County, Maryland, March 9, 1815; died in Bloomington, 
Illinois, June 26, 1886. Educated in Newark Academy. A. B., Kenyon. 





d in Rock 


8, 1877- 



Cnryrij^'it. iSgij by The Century Co. 

The Board of Regents 89 

1832. LL. D., Williams, 1873; Beloit; and Illinois Wesleyan. Studied law 
in New Haven. Admitted to the Bar, Pekin, Illinois, 1835. Member of 
Illinois Legislature, 1844. Member of State Constitutional Convention, 
1847. Judge of 8th Circuit, i848-'62. Justice of the U. S, Supreme Court, 
i862-'77. Member of U. S. Senate from Illinois, December 3, 1877-March 
3, 1883. President of the Senate/w iem., i88i-'83. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed January 16, 1863 ; reappointed 

March 21, 1867. 

Born in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, September 10, 1801; died in Paris, 
Kentucky, September 22, 1872. Admitted to the Bar, 1823. Member of 
Kentucky Legislature, 1833-36. Member of State Constitutional Conven- 
tion, i839-'47. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Kentucky, 
March 4, 1847-March 3, 1849. Member of U. S. Senate from Kentucky, 
December 3, 1861-September 22, 1872. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 23, 1863. 

Born in Annapolis, Maryland, August 16, 1817; died in Baltimore, Mary- 
land, December 30, 1865. A. B,, Kenyon, 1837. LL. D., Hampden-Sidney. 
Studied law in University of Virginia. Admitted to the Bar, Alexandria, Vir- 
ginia, and Baltimore, Maryland. Member of U. S. House of Representatives 
from Maryland, December 3, i855-June 14, 1858, December 7, 1863-March 
3, 1865. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed December 30, 1847; reappointed March 

6, 1851. 

Born in Christian County, Kentucky, June 3, 1808; died in New Orleans, 
Louisiana, Deceml)er 6, i88g. Educated in Transylvania College. Graduated 
United States Military Academy, 1828. LL. D., Bowdoin, 1858. Served in 
Black Hawk War, 1831-32 ; Mexican War, 1846. Second Lieutenant Infantry, 
i828-'33. First Lieutenant Dragoons, 1833-35. Member of U. S. House 
of Representatives from Mississippi, December 8, 1845-August 10, 1846. 
Member of U. S. Senate from Mississippi, December 6, 1847-March 3, 1851, 
December 7, 1857-March 2, i86r. Secretary of War, 1853-57. Major-Gen- 
eral and President of the Confederate States, 1861. 



Regent elected by Congress, March 2, 1861. 

Bom in Baskinridge, New Jersey, February 17, 1807; died in Paris, France, 
December i, 1864. A. B., Princeton, 1825. LL. D., Princeton, 1857. Ad- 

90 The Smithsonian Institution 

mitted to the Bar, Trenton^ New Jersey, 1830. Member of the New Jersey 
Legislature, 1837. Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of the State, 1838. 
Member of U. S. Senate from New Jersey, December 5, 1842-March 3, 1851. 
Attorney-General of New Jersey, 1857-61. U. S. Minister to France, 1861- 
'64. Candidate for Vice-President, 1856. 


Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed January 9, 1882. 

Born in Denmark, Oxford County, Maine, September 2, 1827; died in 
Osage, Iowa, December 8, 1887. Educated in public schools and North 
Bridgeton Academy, Mame. Member of Maine Legislature, 1855-56. 
Removed to Osage, Iowa, 1857. Clerk in U. S. Senate, 1862-65. 
Special Agent in Post Office Department, 1865-69. National Bank Ex- 
aminer for Iowa, i8-j2-'jj. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from 
Iowa, October 15, 1877-March 3, 1883. 


Regent elected by Congress, February'14, 1865. 

Born in New York City, September i, 1798; died in Washington City, 
November 5, 1873. Graduated United States Military Academy, 1818. 
Served in Engineer works, i8i9-'38. Superintendent of United States Mili- 
taryAcademy, 1838-45, i856-'6i. Superintended the defenses of New York 
Harbor, 1846-55. Brigadier-General and Chief of Engineers, i864-'7o. 
Major-General, 1865. 


Regent elected by Congress, May 20, 1890. 

Born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, April 4, 1820; died in Boston, Massa- 
chusetts, January 7, 1891. Declined appointment as Regent on account of a 
provision in Constitution of the State of Massachusetts that " Justices of the 
Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth shall not hold any other place 
or office, or receive any pension or salary from any other State, Government, 
or powei whatsoever." A. B., Harvard, 1838. LL. D., Columbian, 1876; 
and Harvard, 1877. Studied law in Cambridge. Admitted to the Bar, 
1841. Member of Massachusetts Legislature, i848-'49. U. S. Marshal 
for Massachusetts, 1849-53. Major, Colonel, Brigadier-General, 186 1- 
'62. Major-General, 1864. Justice of Superior Court of Massachusetts, 
1867. Justice of Supreme Court of Massachusetts, 1873-77, '81, Attorney- 
General of the United States, 1877. 

The Board of Regents 91 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed February 21, 1854; reappointed 

January 26, i860. 

Born in Brandon, Vermont, April 23, 1813; died in Chicago, Illinois, June 
3, 1 86 1. Educated in public schools, Brandon, Vermont, and Canandaigua, 
New York. Taught school in Winchester, Illinois, 1833. Admitted to the 
Bar, 1834. Attorney-General of the State of Illinois, 1834. Member of the 
Illinois Legislature, 1835. Secretary of State of Illinois, 1840. Judge of 
the Supreme Court, 1841. Registrar of the Land Office of Illinois, 1837. 
Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Illinois, December 4, 1843- 
August ID, 1846. Member of U. S. Senate from Illinois, December 6, 1847- 
March 2, 1861. Candidate for President of the United States, i860. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed January 20, 1883 ; declined February, 
21, 1883. Regent ex officio, as President of the Senate /w ievi., i883-'85. 

Born in Richmond, Vermont, February i, 1828. Educated in public 
schools. A. M., University of Vermont, 1855. LL, D., Middlebury, 1869; 
and University of Vermont, 1879. Admitted to the Bar in Richmond, 
Vermont, 1849. Member of Vermont Legislature, 1854-59, i86i-'62; and 
Speaker, 1855-57. Member of U. S. Senate from Vermont, December 3, 
1866-March 3, 1 89 1. President pro tern, of the United States Senate, 



Regent ex officio, as Mayor of Washington, June, 1870-June, 1871. 

Bom in Pembroke, New Hampshire, September 28, 181 8. Educated in 
Pembroke Academy. Member of Board of Aldermen, Washington City, 
many years. Captain of Company of Militia in the District of Columbia, 
May 16, 1861. 'rreasurer of New Hampshire Soldiers' Association, i86i-'65. 
Trustee Dickinson College, Pennsylvania. Mayor of Washington City, June, 
1870-June, 1871. Vice-Chancellor of National University, Regent and Treas- 
urer American University, Washington City. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 14. 1853; 
reappointed February 26, 1856, December 14, 1857, February 21, i860. 

Born in Lexington, Indiana, August 27, 1822 ; died in Indianapolis, In- 
diana, February 7, 1896. Educated m Hanover College. Admitted to the 
Bar, 1846. County Clerk ; Postmaster in Lexington. Secretary of Indiana 

92 The Smithsonian Institution 

State Constitutional Convention, 1850. Member and Speaker of Indiana 
Legislature, 185 1. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Indiana, 
December i, 1851-March 4, 1861. Candidate for Vice-President, 1880. 
President Indiana Historical Society. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed August 10, 1846. 

Born in Hallowell, Maine, January 12, 1797; died in Portland, Maine, 
April 5, 1867. Educated in Hallowell and Monmouth Academies, Maine. 
A, B., Bowdoin, 1815. LL. D., Bowdoin, 1847. Admitted to the Bar in 
Gardiner, Maine, 1818. Member of Maine Legislature, 1825-28, and 
Speaker, 1828. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Maine, 
December 7, 1829-March 3, 1841. Member of U. S. Senate from Maine, 
May 31, 1841-March 3, 1847. Attorney-General of Maine, 1853-56. Com- 
missioner of Board of Mexican Claims, i849-'5o. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 21, 1865. 

Born in Eaton, Quebec, Canada, March 27, 1820. Admitted to the Bar 
and practised law in Chicago. Member of U. S. House of Representatives 
from Illinois, December i, 1857-March 4, 1861, December 7, 1863-March 4, 
1873. Colonel, Brigadier-General, i862-'63. 



Regent elected by Congress, February 27, 1856; reelected March 2, 1861. 

Born in West Newbury, Massachusetts, November 6, 1807; died in Ches- 
ter, Pennsylvania, February 26, 1862. Educated in Franklin Academy, 
Andover. A. B., Harvard, 1827. LL. D., Amherst, 1848; and Yale, i860. 
Latin tutor, 1829; Greek tutor, 1830; Professor of Greek, 1832; Professor 
of Greek Literature, 1834; President of Harvard College, 1860-62. 



Regent ex officio, as President of the Senate pro tern., Acting Vice-President, 

December 20, 1875. 

Born in Mackinac, Michigan, June i, 1827; died in Grand Haven, Michi- 
gan, October 14, 1896. Educated in public school. Member of Michigan 
Legislature, 1850-56. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Mich- 
igan, December 4, 1865-March 3, 187 1. Member of U. S. Senate from 
Michigan, March 4, 1871-March 3, 1883. President //v tern. United States 
Senate, 1875-79. As Acting Vice-President presided and delivered the ad- 

The Board of Regents 93 

dress in Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1876. Presided at impeach- 
ment trial of Secretary Belknap and the Joint Electoral Commission, iSyG-'yy. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed December 4, 1861 ; reappointed 

March 7, 1865. 

Bom in Boscawen, New Hampshire, October 16, 1806; died in Portland, 
Maine, September 8, 1869. A. B., Bowdoin, 1823. LL. D., Bowdoin, 1858 ; 
and Harvard, 1864. Admitted to the Bar, Bridgeton, Maine, 1827. Member 
of Maine Legislature, 1832-40, 1845-46, and 1 853-54. Presidential Elector, 
1852. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Maine, May 31, 1841- 
March 3, 1845. Member of U. S. Senate from Maine, July 4, 1854-December 6, 
1864, December 4, 1865-April 10, 1869. Secretary of the Treasury, July, 18C4- 
March, 1865, 



Regent ex officio, as Vice-President of the United States, March 4, 1849-1850. 

Born in Summer Hill, Cayuga County, New York, February 7, 1800; 
died in Buffalo, New York, March 7, 1874. D. C. L., University of Oxford. 
Admitted to the Bar, Buffalo, New York, 1823. Member of the New York 
Legislature, 1828-32. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from New 
York, December 2, 1833-March 3, 1835, September 4, 1837-March 3, 1843. 
Comptroller of the State of New York, 1847. Vice-President of the United 
States, March 4, 1849. President of the United States, July 9, 1850. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed January 7, 1850; re- 
appointed January 2, 1852. 

Born in LeRoy, New York, December 6, 1809; died in Logansport, In- 
diana, November 29, 1892. Educated in Middlebury and Geneva, New 
York. M. D., Medical College, Fairfield, New York. Practised medicine 
in Logansport, Indiana, 1834. Professor in Rush Jvledical College, Chicago, 
1844-49. Professor of Surgery, Indiana Medical College, i878-'83. Mem- 
ber of Indiana Legislature, 1836-39. Member of U. S. House of Represen- 
tatives from Indiana, December 3, 1849-March 3, 1S53. Member of U. S. 
Senate from Indiana, December 7, 1857-March 2, 1861. Colonel in War of 
the Rebelhon, 1861-62. Presidential Elector, 1844, 1848, 1856. 



Regent as President of the Senate, Acting Vice-President jjJrc /<;«., April 15, 1865. 

Born in Franklin, Connecticut, November 22, 1806; died in Norwich, 
Connecticut, September 19, 1880. A. B., Brown, 182S. LL. D., Brown, 


94 The Smithsonian Institution 

185 1. Admitted to the Bar, Centerville, Maryland, and Norwich, Connecti- 
cut, 1830, '31. Member of the Connecticut Legislature, i839-'4i, 1846- 
'48, and i854-'7o; and Speaker, 1847-48, 1854, and 1870. Mayor of Nor- 
wich, Connecticut, i85i-'52. Member of U. S. Senate from Connecticut, 
March 4, 1855-March 4, 1867. President of the Senate /r<? tern., 1865-67. 
Justice of Supreme Court of Connecticut, i87o-'76. Professor of Law in 
Yale, 1869. 



Regent ex officio, as Chief Justice of the United States, October 8, 1888. 

Born in Augusta, Maine, February 11, 1833. A, B., Bowdoin, 1853. 
LL. D., Northwestern University; Bowdoin, 1888; and Harvard, 1890. Stud- 
ied law in Bangor and at Harvard. Admitted to the Bar, 1855. President 
of Council of Augusta and City Solicitor, 1856. Member of Illinois Con- 
stitutional Convention, 1862. Member of Illinois Legislature, 1863-65. 
Chief Justice of the United States, 1888. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 21, 1865 ; 
reappointed January 7, 1868, February 2, 1870, January, 1872, January 14, 
1878, April 14, 1879. 

Born in Bedford, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, November 19, 1831 ; died in 
Elberon, New Jersey, September 19, 1881. Educated in high schools, 
Chester and Hiram, Ohio. A. B., Williams, 1856. A. M., Williams, 1859. 
LL. D., Williams, 1872 ; and University of Pennsylvania, 1881. Tutor of Latin 
and Greek in Hiram College, 1856. President of Hiram College, i857-'59. 
Member of Ohio Senate, i859-'6o. Lieutenant-Colonel, Colonel, Brigadier- 
General, Major-General, 1861-63. Member of U. S. House of Represen- 
tatives from Ohio, December 7, 1863-June 16, 1880. Elected to U. S. Senate 
from Ohio, 1880. President of the United States, March 4, 1881. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 14, 1857; 

reappointed February 21, i860. 

Born in Wilkes County, Georgia, January 7, 1821 ; died in Adanta, Georgia, 
April 7, 1891. Educated in Randolph-Macon, Virginia, and Franklin College, 
now University of Georgia. Admitted to the Bar, 1842. Solicitor-General 
of Georgia, i843-'47. Member of Georgia Legislature, 1847-51. Presiden- 
tial Elector, 1856. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Georgia, 
December 7, 1857-March 2, 1861. Colonel and Brigadier-General in Con- 
federate Army. 

The Board of Regents 95 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed December 19, 1887; reappointed 

March 28, 1889. 

Born in Spring Hill, Kentucky, September 10, 1832; died in Hot Springs, 
Arkansas, December 15, 1892. Educated in Lexington, Kentucky, and 
Terre Bonne, Louisiana. A. B., Yale, 1853. Graduated in law, University 
of Louisiana, 1855. Declined Secretaryship of Legation to Spain, 1855. 
Captain, Colonel, and General in Confederate Army. Member of U. S. 
House of Representatives from Louisiana, December 6, 1875-March 3, 1S83. 
Member of U. S. Senate from I-ouisiana, March 4, 1883-March 3, 1892. 
President of the Board of Administration of the Tulane Educational Fund. 
Trustee of the Peabody Educational Fund. Administrator of the Howard 
Memorial Library, 



Regent elected by Congress, January 19, 1874: reelected December 19, 1879, 

and December 26, 1885. 

Born in Paris, New York, November 18, 1810; died in Cambridge, Massa- 
chusetts, January 30, 1888. Educated in Fairfield Academy, New York, 
1825-29. M. D., College of Physicians and Surgeons, Fairfield, 1831. 
A. M., Harvard, 1844. LL. D., Hamilton, i860. Harvard, 1875; McGill, 
1884; University of Michigan, 1887; and Edinburgh, 1887. D. Sc, Cambridge, 
1887. D. C. L., Oxford, 1887. Botanist to United States Exploring Expedition, 
1834-37. Curator New York Lyceum of Natural History, 1836. Elected 
Professor of Botany and Zoology, University of Michigan (declined), 1838, 
Professor of Natural History, Harvard, 1842-73. Curator of the Herbarium, 
Harvard, 1873. Original Member of National Academy of Sciences, 1863. 
President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, i863-'73. Pres- 
ident of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1872. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed December 20, 1892; reappomted March 

20, 1893. 

Born in New Castle, Delaware, May 4, 1840. A. B., Princeton, 1859. 
A. M., Princeton, 1862. LL. D., Princeton, 1889. Studied law in Harvard. 
Admitted to the Bar, 1863. Attorney-General of Delaware, 1879-85. Mem- 
ber of LT. S. Senate from Delaware, March 19, 1885-March 3, 1899. 



Regent ex officio, as Vice-President of the United States, March 4. 1 861 -March 4, 
1865. Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed January iS, 1870. 

Born in Paris, Maine, August 27, 1809; died in Bangor, Maine, July 4, 
1891. Educated in Hebron Academy, Maine. LL. D., Waterville (now 
Colby) University, 1859. Admitted to the Bar, Paris, Maine, 1833. Mem- 

96 The Smithsonian Institution 

ber of the Maine Legislature, 1836-40, and 1847. Speaker of the Maine 
House, 1837-39, ^"^ 1840. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from 
Maine, December 4, 1843-March 3, 1847. Member of U. S. Senate from 
Maine, June 12, 1848-March 3, 1851, March 3, 1857-March 3, 1861, March 
3, 1869-March 3, 1881. Governor of Maine, 1857. Vice-President of the 
United States, i86i-'65. Collector of Port of ^Boston, i865-'66. U. S. 
Minister to Spain, 1881-85. 



Regent elected by Congress, August 10, 1846; reelected December 19, 1848, and 

December 27, 1854. 

Born in Huntington, Connecticut, September 26, 1785; died in Albany, 
New York, July 16, 1870. Educated in Academy, Ballston, New York. 
A. B., Union, 1809. LL. D., Rutgers, 1833. Admitted to the Bar in Albany, 
1813. Secretary of the Regents of the University of New York, 1814-41. 
State Superintendent of Common Schools, i8i3-'2i; known as " the Father 
of the Common School System of the State." Regent of the University of 
New York, 1842-70. Trustee ot Albany Academy, 18 18. Trustee of Al- 
bany Female Academy, 182 1. Member of Executive Committee of State 
Normal School, i845-'52. Master in Chancery, 181 2. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 18, 1873. 

Born in Chester, New Hampshire, February 24, 1829. Educated in Pinker- 
ton Academy, New Hampshire. Admitted to the Bar, 1856. Member 
of Wisconsin Senate, i860. Collector of Internal Revenue, 1866. U. S. 
Attorney for Wisconsin, 1869. Member of U. S. House of Representatives 
from Wisconsin, March 4, 1871-March 3, 1875. 



Regent elected by Congress, January 26, 1892. 

Born near Danville, Virginia, November 16, 1826. LL. D., University of 
Missouri, 1882. Admitted to the Bar in Missouri, 1848. Member of Missouri 
Legislature, 1856. Presidential Elector, 1856-60. Member of U. S. Senate 
from Missouri, January 29, 1862-March 3, 1869. Commissioner to the In- 
dians, 1867. Assistant U. S. District Attorney, 1875. 



Regent ex officio, as Vice-President of the United States, March 4, 1885. 

Born in Muskingum County, Ohio, September 7, 1819; died in Indianapolis, 
Indiana, November 25, 1885. A. B., South Hanover College 1841. Ad- 
mitted to the Bar in Shelbyville, Indiana, 1843. Member of Indiana Legis- 


The Board of Regents 97 

lature, 1845. Member of Constitutional Convention, 1850. Member of 
U. S. House of Representatives from Indiana, December 1, 1851-March 4, 
1853. Commissioner of the General Land Office, i855-'57. Member of 
U. S. Senate from Indiana, December 7, 1863-March 3, 1869. Governor 
of Indiana, i873-'77. Vice-President of the United States, 1885. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 14, 1875. 

Born in Hillsborough, Jasper County, Georgia, September 14, 1823; died 
in Atlanta, Georgia, August 19, 1882. A. B., University of Georgia, 1844. 
Admitted to the Bar in La Grange, Georgia, 1S45. Member of the Georgia 
House of Representatives, 1851 ; and Senate, 1859. Member of Confederate 
Senate, i86i-'65. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Georgia, 
December 6, 1875-March 3, 1879. Member of U. S. Senate from Georgia, 
March 5, 1877-August 19, 1882, Presidential Elector, 1856, i860. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed May 19, 1881. 

Born in Montgomery, New York, February 18, 1832. A. B., Brown, 1856. 
Tutor in Chemistry, 1858; Professor of Chemistry applied to the Arts, 
1859-64, Brown University. Member of the Colorado Territorial Council, 
i872-'73. Mayor of Black-Hawk, Colorado, 1871. Member of U. S. Senate 
from Colorado, March 3, 1879-March 3, 1885. Member of International 
Monetary Commission, 1891. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed August 10, 1846; re- 
appointed December 22, 1847, and January 7, 1850, 

Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, August 4, 1808; died in Atlanta, 
Georgia, December 17, 1892. A. B., South Carolina College, 1826. A. M., 
South Carolina College, 1829; and University of Alabama, 1834. Ad- 
mitted to the Bar in Athens, Georgia, 1829. Professor in Alabama University, 
i83i-'34. Member of Alabama Legislature, 1838. U. S. Minister to Bel- 
gium, i842-'44. Member of U. S. House of Rei)resentatives from Alabama 
December i, 1845-March 3, 1851. U. S. Minister to Brazil, i877-'8i, 
Presidential Elector, 1840, 1856, i860. Brigadier-General in Confederate 
Army, 1862. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed August 11. 1S93; re- 
appointed January 4, 1894, and December 20, 1895. 

Born in Urbana, Ohio, January 16, 1834. Educated in Rock River Semi- 
nary (now Mount Morris College), Illinois. A. B., De Pauw University, 1855. 

98 The Smithsonian Institittion 

A. M., De Pauw, 1858. LL. D., De Pauvv, 1894. First Secretary of Legation 
and Charge d'Afifaires ad interim at Paris, December, 1874-March, 1881. 
Assistant Secretary of State, 1882. Member of U. S. House of Representatives 
from Illinois, November 7, 1882-March 3, 1899. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 18, 1873. 

Born in Concord, Massachusetts, February 21, 1816; died in Concord, 
Massachusetts, January 31, 1895. A. B., Harvard, 1835. LL. B., Harvard, 
1839. LL. D., Williams, 1861 ; and Harvard, 1868. Admitted to the Bar in 
Concord and Boston, 1840. Member of Massachusetts Legislature, 1846. 
Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, 1849-55. Judge of the State Supreme 
Court, i859-'69. Attorney-General of the United States, 1869-70. Member 
of the Joint High Commission that framed the Treaty of Washington with 
Great Britain, 187 1. Presidential Elector, 1872. Member of U. S. House of 
Representatives from Massachusetts, December i, 1873-March 4, 1875. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, February 21, 1881. 

Born in Concord, Massachusetts, August 29, 1826. Educated in Concord 
Academy. A. B., Harvard College, 1846. LL. B., Harvard, 1849. LL. D., 
William and Mary, 1873; Amherst, 1879; Yale, 1885; and Harvard, 1886. 
Admitted to the Bar in Worcester, Massachusetts. Member of Massachusetts 
House of Representatives, 1852 ; and State Senate, 1857. City Solicitor, i860. 
Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts, March 4, 
1869-March 4, 1877. Member of U. S. Senate from Massachusetts, March 
4, 1877-March 3, 1901. President of American Antiquarian Society; Ameri- 
can Historical Association, 1895. Member of the Electoral Commission, 
1876. Overseer of Harvard College, 1 874-'8o. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed August 10, 1846. 

Born in Eaton, Madison County, New York, March 6, 1795; died in Syra- 
cuse, New York, October 4, 1869. Admitted to the Bar in Cazenovia, New 
York. Member of New York Legislature, 1855-56. Member of U. S. House 
of Representatives from New York, December i, 1845-March 3, 1847, 



Regent elected by Congress, February 27, 1895. 

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, August 25, 1822. Educated in Boston. 
A. B., Dartmouth, 1841. LL. D., Columbian, 1888; and Dartmouth, 1893. 

The Board of Regents 99 

Admitted to the Bar in Boston, 1843. Founder of the first school estab- 
hshed in United States for teaching the deaf to speak, in Chelmsford, Massa- 
chusetts, 1846, afterwards moved to Northampton and incorporated as the 
Clark School for the Deaf. Member of State Board of Education of Massa- 
chusetts for ten years. Special U. S. Commissioner on Railroad Mail 
Transportation, 1876. Commissioner from Massachusetts to the Centennial 
Exposition, 1876. President of the Joint Commission of the seven Scientific 
Societies in Washington, 1895. President National Geographic Society. 



Regent ex officio, as President of the Senate /ri? tern., February 26, 1887-89. 

Born in Middletown, Massachusetts, December 29, 1833. A. B., Williams, 
1855. LL. D., Williams, 1884. Admitted to the Bar, 1857. Secretary of 
Kansas Territorial Council, i860. Member of the Kansas Senate, 1862. 
Member of U. S. Senate from Kansas, March 4, 1873-March 3, 1891. 



Regent ex officio, as Vice-President of the United States, March 4, 1865. 

Bom in Raleigh, North Carolina, December 29, 1808; died in Carter County, 
Tennessee, July 31, 1875. Self-educated. LL. D., Columbia, 1865 ; and Uni- 
versity of North Carolina, 1865. Alderman in Greenville, Tennessee, 1828-30. 
Mayor, 1830-33. Trustee of Rhea Academy, 1831. Member of Tennessee 
Legislature, 1835, 1839, 1841, and 1843. Presidential Elector for State-at-large, 
1840, Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Tennessee, i843-'53. 
Governor of Tennessee, 1853-57. Member of U. S. Senate from Tennessee, 
December 7, 1857-March 4, '62-March 4, 1875-March 24, 1875. Military 
Governor of Tennessee, 1862-64. Vice-President of the United States, 1865. 
President of the United States, April 14, 1865-March 4, 1869. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed April 4, 1879. 

Bom near Farmville, Virginia, February 3, 1807 ; died in Washington City, 
March 21, 1891. Graduated LTnited States Military Academy, 1829. Second 
Lieutenant in Fourth Artillery, 1829. In Black Hawk expedition, 1832. First 
Lieutenant, Fourth Artillery, 1836. Aide-de-camp to General Scott in the 
Seminole War. First Lieutenant, Topographical Engineers, 1838. Brevetted 
Captain for gallantry in the War with the Florida Lidians. \\\ charge of many 
important river and harbor improvements, i838-'42. Boundary surveys, 
1842-46. Brevetted Major, Lieutenant-Colonel, and Colonel for gallantry in 
the Mexican War. Quartermaster-General of the Army, i86o-'6i. Major- 
General in Confederate Army, 1861-65. Member of U. S. House of Repre- 
sentatives from Virginia, March 18, 1879-March 4, 1S81. Commissioner of 
Railroads of the United States, 1887. 

loo The Smithsonian Institution 



Regent elected by Congress, January 26, 1892. 

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, January 5, 1831. A. B., Yale, 1852. LL. D., 
Washington and Lee, 1875. Colonel in Confederate Army. Professor of His- 
tory and English Literature in Washington and Lee University, 1867-80. 
President Louisiana State University, 1880. Elected President Tulane Uni- 
versity, 1884. 



Regent ex officio, as Vice-President of the United States, March 4, 1853. 

Born in Sampson County, North Carolina, April 6, 1786; died in Dallas 
County, Alabama, April 8, 1853. A. B., University of North Carolina, 1803. 
Admitted to the Bar in Fayetteville, North Carohna, 1806. Member of North 
Carolina Legislature. Solicitor of Wilmington District. Member of U. S. 
House of Representatives from Alabama, December 3, 1810-16. Secretary 
of Legation to Naples, 1816. Secretary of Legation to Russia, 1818. Dele- 
gate to Convention to Organize State Government for Alabama, 1819. Mem- 
ber of U. S. Senate from Alabama, December 6, 1819-June 17, 1844, Decem- 
ber 4, 1848-53. U. S. Minister to France, 1844-46. Vice-President of the 
United States, 1853. 



Regent i?.r <j^r/^, as Mayor of Washington, June, 1850-June, 1852. 

Born in Washington City, August 17, 1817 ; died in Washington City, July 
16, 1874. A. B., Yale, 1837. Member and President of City Council, also an 
Alderman of Washington. Mayor of Washington City, June, 1850-June, 1852, 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed January 6, 1890; 

reappointed January 15, 1892. 

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, May 12, 1850. Educated in private school. 
A. B., Harvard, 1871. LL. B., Harvard, 1874. Ph. D., Harvard, 1876. 
LL. D., Williams, 1893. Admitted to the Bar in Boston, 1876. University 
Lecturer on American History, Harvard, i876-'79. Member of Massachu- 
setts Legislature, 1880-81. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from 
Massachusetts, December 5, 1887-March 4, 1893. Member of U. S. Senate 
from Massachusetts, March 4, 1893-March 3, 1899, 

The Board of Regents loi 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 22, 1847. 

Born in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, August i, 1807; died in Detroit, Michi- 
gan, August 27, 1880. A. B., Dickinson, 1829. Admitted to the Bar in 
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, 1831. Member of Michigan Constitutional 
Convention, 1835. Member of Michigan Legislature and Speaker, i838-'43. 
Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Michigan, 1843-49. Mem- 
ber of Constitutional Conventions of Michigan, 1850 and '67. Governor of 
Michigan, 1851-53. Secretary of the Interior, i853-'57. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 14, 1875. 

Born near Evansville, Indiana, August 29, 1835; died in St. Joseph, Mis- 
souri, June 23, 1890. Educated in public school and Academy. Ad- 
mitted to the Bar in Keokuk, Iowa, 1856. Member of the Iowa Legislature, 
i857-'65. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Iowa, March 4, 
1869-March 4, 1877. Secretary of War Department, 1877-79. J^^g^ of 
United States Circuit Court, 1879-84. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 19, 1861. 

Born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 31, 1830; died in Gettysburg, Penn- 
sylvania, December 14, 1895. A. B., Pennsylvania College, 1848; and Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania, 1848. A. M., Princeton, 1866. LL. 1)., University 
of Pennsylvania, 1877. Admitted to the Bar. Member of U. S. House 
of Representatives from Pennsylvania, December 5, 1859-March 4, 1863. 
Deputy Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 1863. Cleik of the House of 
Representatives, 1863-73, i88i-'83, i889-'9i. Chief of the Bureau of En- 
graving and Printing, i877-'78. 



Regent elected by Congress, January 11, 1868; reelected January 19, 1874, 
December 19, 1879, and December 26, 1885. 

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, March 3, 1800; died in Princeton, New 
Jersey, August 10, 1886. A. B., Princeton, 1816. D. D., Washington Col- 
lege, 184 1. LL. D., University of the State of New York, 1854. Tutor 
of Greek in Princeton. Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in 
Princeton, 1822-29. Professor of Ancient Languages, i829-'47. President 
of Princeton, i854-'68. 

I02 The Smithsonian Institittion 



'^tg&n\. ex officio f as Mayor of Washington, June, 1856-June, 1858. 

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, February 11, 181 1; died in Georgetown, 
District of Columbia, May 30, 1869. Studied medicine in Georgetown, Dis- 
trict of Columbia. M. D., University of Maryland, 1831. Member of City 
Councils of Washington twenty years. In charge of Cholera Hospital, 1832. 
Mayor of Washington City, June, 1856-June, 1858. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 22, 1847. 

Born in Woodstock, Vermont, March 15, 1801; died in Vallambrosa, 
Italy, July 23, 1882, A. B., Dartmouth, 1820. A. M., Dartmouth, i860. 
LL. D., Harvard, 1859; Delaware, 1859; and Dartmouth, i860. Admitted to 
the Bar in Burlington, Vermont, 1823. Member of the Vermont Legislature, 
1835. Member of Supreme Executive Council of Vermont. Member of 
U. S. House of Representatives from Vermont, December 7, 1842-March 3, 
1849, U. S. Minister to Turkey, 1849-53. Special U. S. Commissioner to 
Greece, 1852. U. S. Minister to Italy, 1861-82. Member of National Acad- 
emy of Sciences, 1866. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed March 6, 1849; reappointed March 6, 

185 1, and March 6, 1857. 

Bom in Fairfax County, Virginia, November 3, 1798; died near Alexandria, 
Virginia, April 28, 1871. A. B., University of Pennsylvania, 1818. Admitted 
to the Bar in Winchester, Virginia. Member of Virginia Legislature, 1826- 
'32. Member of the Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1829. Presidential 
Elector, 1833. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Virginia, 
September 4, 1837-March 3, 1839. Member of U. S. Senate from Virginia, 
December 6, 1847-July 11, 1861. 



Regent ex officio, as Mayor of Washington, June, 1852-June, 1854. 

Bom in Caroline County, Virginia, May 15, 1809; died in Washington 
City, February 2, 1855. Alderman of Washington City, i85i-'52. Mayor 
of Washington City, June, 1852-June, 1854. President of the Bank of the 
Metropolis. Trustee of Columbian University, Washington City. 

The Board of Regents 103 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed May 19, 188 1. 

Born in Tompkinsville, Kentucky, March 30, 1825 ; died in Eureka Springs, 
Arkansas, August 16, 1895. Educated in Monroe County, Kentucky. 
Graduated United States Military Academy, 1846. Brevetted First Lieuten- 
ant for gallant conduct in the Mexican War. Admitted to the Bar in 
Albany, Kentucky, 1850. Elected to Texas State Senate. Brigadier-General, 
1862. Major-General of Confederate Army, 1864. Member of U. S. Senate 
from Texas, March 5, 1875-March 3, 1887. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed January 2, 1852; 
reappointed December 14, 1853, and February 26, 1856. 

Born in Rutland, Vermont, 1810; died in Middlebury, Vermont, August 22, 
1856. A. B., Middlebury, 1832. Tutor in Middlebury. Studied theology. 
Professor of Elocution and English Literature in Middlebury College. Mem- 
ber of U. S. House of Representatives from Vermont, March 3, 1849-August 
22, 1856. 



Regent elected by Congress, December 26, 1885. 

Born in Augusta, Georgia, May 3, 1816; died in Washington City, January 
2, 1892. Entered University of Pennsylvania, 1S31. Graduated United States 
Military Academy, 1836. First Lieutenant U. S. Engineers, 1838. Captain, 
1853. Corps of Engineers engaged in engineering works, i84i-'5o. Colonel 
of the Eleventh U. S. Infantry, 1861. Quartermaster-General United States 
Army, 1861. Brigadier-General, 1862. Major-General, 1864. Designed and 
constructed the Potomac Aqueduct, 1852. Superintended building of the new 
wings and iron dome of the United States Capitol extension. Built the Cap- 
tain John Bridge and U. S. Pension Bureau. Member of National Academy 
of Sciences, 1865. 



Regent ex officio, as Acting Chief Justice of the United States, March 24, 18S8, and 
Chancellor /r^) km. pending the appointment of a Chief Justice. 

Born in Richmond, Kentucky, April 5, 1816; died in Washington City, 
October 13, 1890. M. D., Transylvania University, 1837. LL. D., Iowa 
State University, 1S65; Iowa College, 1870; University of Michigan, 1887; 
and National University, 1890. D. C. L., Georgetown University, 1870. Ad- 
mitted to the Bar in Kentucky, 1844. Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 
of the United States, 1862-90. Member Electoral Commission, iS-jS-'-j-j. 

I04 The Smithsonian Institution 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed February 21, 1883 ; reappointed 
March 23, 1885, and December 15, 1891. 

Born in Strafford, Vermont, April 14, 1810. Educated in public schools and 
Academy. A. M., Dartmouth, 1857. LL.D., Vermont University and State 
Agricultural College, 1874; and University of Pennsylvania, 1884. Member 
of U. S. House of Representatives from Vermont, December 3, 1855-March 
4, 1867. Member of U. S. Senate from Vermont, March 4, 1867-March 3, 



Regent ex officio, as Vice-President of the United States, March 4, 1889- 

March 4, 1893. 

Born in Shoreham, Vermont, May 16, 1824. Educated in public schools 
and Academy. LL. D., Dartmouth, 1881; and Middlebury, 1882. Merchant 
and banker. Honorary U. S. Commissioner to the Paris Exposition, 1878. 
Member of U. S. House of Representatives from New York, March 18, 1879- 
March 4, 1881. U. S. Minister to France, 1881-85. U. S. Commissioner- 
General to the Paris Electrical Exposition, 1888. Vice-President of the 
United States, i889-'93. Governor of the State of New York, 1894-96. 


Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed August 10, 1846. 

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, November 9, 1800 ; died at Lake George, New 
York, June 17, 1877. Educated in Berne, Switzerland. LL. D., Uni- 
versity of Indiana, 1872. Member of Indiana Legislature, 1835. Member of 
U. S. House of Representatives from Indiana, December 4, 1843-March 3, 
1847. Member and Chairman of Indiana Constitutional Convention, 1850. 
Member of Indiana Legislature, 1851. Charge d'Afifaires to Naples, 1S53. 
U. S. Minister to Naples, 1855-58. 



Regent elected by Congress, January 11, 1868; reelected January 19, 1874, and 

December 19, 1879. 

Born in Framingham, Massachusetts, June 18, 1804; died in Washington 
City, January 10, 1888. A. B., Yale, 1831. A. M., Yale, 1858. M. D., Yale, 
1834. Studied theology. Went to China as a missionary. Established a 
hosi)ital in Canton, China. Secretary of United States Embassy and Acting 
Charge d'Afifaires, China, i845-'55. Commissioner to China, 1855-57. 

The Board of Regents 105 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 23, 1863 ; 

reappointed December 21, 1865. 

Born in Henniker, New Hampshire, July 2, 1823; died in Hanover, New 
Hampshire, May 4, 1893. A. B., Dartmouth, 1848. LL. D., Iowa Col- 
lege, 1868. Studied theology in Yale. Tutor, 1852-54; Professor of Math- 
ematics, i854-'59; Professor of Astronomy and Meteorology, Dartmouth, 
1849-65. Secretary of New Hampshire State Board of Education. Mem- 
ber of the Legislature, i862-'77, and 1878. Member of U. S. House of 
Representatives from New Hampshire, December i, 1862-March 3, 1867. 
Member of U. S. Senate from New Hampshire, March 4, i867-March 3, 
1873. State Superintendent of Public Instruction in New Hampshire, 1880. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed February 22, 1847; reappointed 
June 19, 1856, and March 7, 1861. 

Born in Alexandria, Virginia, December 14, 1805; died in Charlestown, 
Maryland, December 20, 1862. A. B., Princeton, 1822. LL. D., Princeton; 
and St. John's College, 1856. Member of Maryland Legislature, 1831. Ad- 
mitted to the Bar in Baltimore, 1824. Professor of Law, Washington College, 
Maryland. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Maryland, 
December 7, 1835-March 3, 1843. Member of U. S. Senate from Maryland, 
January 10, 1843-July 17, 1862. Offered and declined Judgeship of United 
States District Court of Maryland, and Secretaryship of U. S. Department 
of the Interior. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed August 10, 1846. 

Bom in Shenandoah County, Virginia, September 12, 1807 ; died in Wash- 
ington City, January 12, 1847. A. B,, Washington College. Admitted to 
the Bar in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Member of U. S. House of Representa- 
tives from Virginia, December 5, 1836-July 9, 1838. District Judge, 1839. 
DecHned office of U. S. Attorney-General, and that of Justice of the Supreme 
Court of Virginia and nomination for Governor. Member of U. S. Senate 
from Virginia, December 8, 1845-March 3, 1847. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed January 7, 1884; 
reappointed January 12, 1886, and January 10, 1888. 

Born in New York City, August 29, 1839; died in Teaneck, New Jersey, 
June 17, 1894. A. B., Yale, i860. A. M., Yale, 1863. LL. D., Rutgers, 


io6 The Smithsonian histitution 

1889; and Yale, 1890. LL. B., Columbia, 1863. Admitted to the Bar, 1863. 
Member of U. S. House of Representatives from New Jersey, December, 1873- 
March 3, 1875, December 3, 1883-March 4, 1889. U. S. Minister to Austria, 
1881. Member of International Conference on the Samoan Question in Ber- 
lin, 1889. U. S. Minister to Germany, 1890-93. Judge of New Jersey 
Court of Errors and Appeals, 1893-94. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed March 7, 1867 ; 

reappointed February 2, 1870. 

Born in Westford, Vermont, November i, 1815; died in Waterville, Ver- 
mont, July 2, 1887. Educated in public schools. A. M., University of 
Vermont, 1857. LL. D., University of Vermont, 1861. Admitted to the 
Bar, 1836. Member of State Constitutional Convention, 1843. Prosecuting 
Attorney for Lamoille County, 1844-45. Judge of Vermont Supreme Court, 
i848-'6o. Chief Justice of Vermont, 1860-65. Member of Legislature, 1878. 
Member of U. S. Senate from Vermont, December 4, 1865-March 3, 1867. 
Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Vermont, March 4, 1867- 
March 4, 1875, December 3, 1883-March 3, 1885. 



Regent elected by Congress, January 26, 1878; reelected March 3, 1884. 

Born in Farmington, Connecticut, December 14, 181 1 ; died in New Haven, 
Connecticut, March 4, 1892. A. B., Yale, 1831. A. M., Yale. D. D., Uni- 
versity of City of New York, 1858. LL. D., Heidelberg, 1884; Edinburgh, 
1886; Western Reserve College, 1870; and Trinity, 1871. Master of Hop- 
kins Grammar School, New Haven, 1831-33. Tutorin Yale, 1833-35. P^^' 
tor of Congregational Churches in Connecticut, i836-'43, and in Massachu- 
setts, 1843-46. Professor of Moral Philosophy and Metaphysics in Yale, 
1846-71. President of Yale University, i87i-'86. 



Regent elected by Congress, August 10, 1846. 

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 27, 1794; died in Columbia, 
South Carolina, May 22, i860. A. B., College of South Carolina, 181 2. 
LL. D,, Washington and Lee, 1842; and Harvard, 1846. Admitted to the 
Bar. Studied law in the University of Edinburgh. Member of South Caro- 
lina Legislature, 1828-32. Member of U. S. Senate from South Carolina, 
1836. Professor of Belles-lettres and President o( College of South Carolina, 

1845-5 1- 

The Board of Regents 107 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed January 7, 1868. 

Born in Albany, New York, June 22, 181 1 ; died in Clifton Springs, New 
York, November 21, 1877. Educated in private schools. Graduated in 
Albany Academy, 1826. A. M., Rutgers, 1835. LL. D., Union, 1845; and 
University of Rochester, 1852. Admitted to the Bar, 1832. Member of New 
York Legislature, 1861. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from 
New York, December 7, 1863-March 3, 1865, March 4, 1867-March 3, 1869. 
Regent of University of State of New York, 1844, for thirty-three years, 
during the last fifteen of which he was Chancellor (1862-77). President of 
St. Stephen's College. President of State Commission of Charities. Presi- 
dent of the Board of State Survey. 



Regent elected by Congress, August 10, 1846; reelected December 24, 1850, and 

January 28, 1857. 

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 29, 1780; died in Philadelphia, 
Pennsylvania, July 30, 1859. A. M., Princeton, 1797. Admitted to the Bar in 
Philadelphia, 1800. Attorney-General of Pennsylvania, 181 1. Comptroller 
of the United States Treasury, 181 1. Attorney-General of the United States, 
1814-17. U. S. Secretary of State, 1817. U. S. Minister to England, 1817- 
'25. Secretary of the Treasury, 1825. Commissioner to England to obtain 
the legacy of James Smithson, i836-'38. U. S. Minister to France, 1847-51. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed January 13, 1874. 

Born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, September 28, 1827 ; died in San 
Francisco, California, August 14, 1887. Admitted to the Bar, 1854. District 
Attorney of Nevada County, California, 1856. Member of U. S. House of 
Representatives from California, July 4, 1861-March 3, 1863, March 3, 1869- 
March 3, 1873. Member of U. S. Senate from California, March 4, 1873- 
March 3, 1879. U. S. Minister to Germany, 1882. Declined mission to 



'Re'g(in\. ex officio, as Mayor of Washington, August 10, 1846-June, 1850. 

Born in King William County, Virginia, January 11, 1785 ; died in Wash- 
ington City, June 16, 1866. Educated in Richmond, Virginia. Mayor of 
Washington City, June, 1840-June, 1850. Journalist. Editor of the Na- 
tional Intelligencer, i8i2-'66. 

io8 The Smithsonian Institution 



Regent ex officio, as Governor of the District of Columbia, September 13, 1873- 

June 20, 1874. 

Born in Washington City, January 31, 1835. President of Common Coun- 
cil of Washington, 1861. Member of Levy Court of District of Columbia, 
1867. Alderman, 1870. Member of Board of Public Works, 1871. Gov- 
ernor of District of Columbia, September 13, 1873-June 20, 1874. 



Regent ex officio, as President of the Senate /ri? tern., December 7, 1885- 

February 26, 1887. 

Born in Lancaster, Ohio, May 10, 1823. Educated in public schools. 
Mount Vernon, and Homer's Academy, Lancaster, Ohio. Admitted to the 
Bar, Springfield, Ohio, 1844. Member of U. S. House of Representatives 
from Ohio, December 3, 1855-61. Member of U. S. Senate from Ohio, March 
4, i86i-'77, 1881-99. Secretary of the Treasury, March, 1877-81. Presi- 
dent of the Senate pro tern,, December 7, 1885-February 26, 1887. 



Regent elected by Congress, January 30, 1871 ; reelected March 25, 1878. 

Born in Lancaster, Ohio, February 8, 1820; died in New York City, Feb- 
ruary 14, 1891. Graduated United States Military Academy, 1840. LL. D., 
Dartmouth, 1866; Yale, 1876; and Princeton, 1878. Served in Indian wars 
in Florida, in California, etc., 1840-53. Counsellor-at-Law in Leaven- 
worth, Kansas, 1858-59. Superintendent of the Louisiana State Military 
Academy, i860. Colonel of Thirteenth Infantry, 1861. Brigadier-General, 
1 86 1. Major-General, 1862. Lieutenant-General, 1866. General, 1869-84.' 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed January 7, 1884; 

reappointed January 12, 1886. 

Born in Jessamine County, Kentucky, October 14, 1814 ; died in Washing- 
ton City, January 11, 1889. A. B., St. Joseph's College, Kentucky, 1836. 
Graduated Lexington Law School, 1838. Admitted to the Bar. Member 
of Mississippi Legislature, i838-'46. Presidential Elector, 1852. Member 
of U. S. House of Representatives from Mississippi, December 5, 1853- 
March 3, 1855, December i, i857-March 4, 1861, December 6, 1875-March 
4, 1887. Representative in Confederate Congress, i86i-'65. 

The Board of Regents 109 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed February 26, 1856; 
reappointed Ueccmber 14, 1857, and Fel)ruary2i, i860. 

Born near Mount Pleasant, Ohio, June 4, 1809; died in Wheeling, West 
Virginia, June 2, 1872. Admitted to the 13ar in Steubenville, Ohio, 1834. 
Member of Ohio Senate, i84i-'42. Member of Ohio Constitutional Con- 
vention, 1850. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Ohio, Decem- 
ber I, 1851-March 3, 1861. Lieutenant-Governor of Ohio, i862-'64. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed January 14, 1878. 

Born near Crawfordsville, Georgia, February 11, 1812; died in Atlanta, 
Georgia, March 4, 1883. A. M., Franklin College (now State University), 
1832. Admitted to the Bar, 1834. Member of Georgia Legislature, i836-'43. 
Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Georgia, December 4, 1843- 
March 3, 1859, December i, 1873-March 4, 1881. Vice-President of Con- 
federate States, 1 86 1. Elected Professor of Political Science and History in 
the University of Georgia, 1868. Governor of Georgia, 1882. 



Regent ex officio, as Vice-President of the United States, March 4, 1893- 

March 4, 1897. 

Born in Christian County, Kentucky, October 23, 1835. Educated in 
Illinois Wesleyan University, and Centre College, Kentucky. Admitted 
to the Bar, 1857. Master in Chancery, 1861-65. State Attorney, 1864-68. 
Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Illinois, December 6, 
1875-March 4, 1877, March 18, 1879-March 4, 1881. First Assistant Post- 
master-General, 1885. Vice-President of the United States, March 4, i893-'97. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed December 10, 1872. 

Born in Richmond, Virginia, May 4, 1812; died in Covington, Kentucky, 
August 10, 1886. Educated in Richmond. A. B., University of Virginia, 
1832. Admitted to the Bar, 1841. Member of the Kentucky Legisla- 
ture, 1847. Member of State Constitutional Convention, 1849. Member of 
U. S. House of Representatives from Kentucky, December 1, IS57-^Llrch 4, 
1861. Lieutenant-Governor, 1867; and Governor of Kentucky, 1867-71. 
Member of U. S. Senate from Kentucky, March 4, IS7I-^L1^ch 3. 1877. 
Professor of Law in Cincinnati Law School, 1877. President of the American 
Bar Association, 1884. Commissioner to prepare "Code of Practice," 1854. 
Presidential Elector, 1852, 1856. 


no The Smithsonian Instittition 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed December 14, 1853. 

Born in Brooklyn, New York, March 12, i86i; died in Detroit, Michi- 
gan, September 12, 1868. Educated in Amherst College, 1842. A. B., Brown. 
Admitted to the Bar in Detroit, Michigan. Prosecuting Attorney for Wayne 
County, Michigan. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Michi- 
gan, December 5, 1853-March 3, 1855. Attorney in Chicago. Lieutenant- 
Colonel of Forty-second Illinois Infantry Volunteers, 1861. Colonel Second 
Regiment, Douglas Brigade, Fifty-fifth Illinois Infantry, 1861. Brigadier- 
General of Volunteers, 1862. 



Regent ex officio, as Chief Justice of the United States, August 10, 1846. 

Born in Calvert County, Maryland, March 17, 1777; died in Washington 
City, October 12, 1864. Educated in schools in Maryland. A. B., Dickin- 
son, 1795. LL. D., Dickinson, 1831 ; and Union, 1835. Admitted to the 
Bar, Annapolis, Maryland, 1799. Member of Maryland Legislature, 1800-01. 
Attorney-General of Maryland, 1827. Attorney-General of the United States, 
1 83 1. Secretary of the Treasury, 1833. Chief Justice of the United States, 
March 15, 1836-October 12, 1864. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed January 9, 1882. 

Born in Nelson, Portage County, Ohio, July 9, 1823. Educated in public 
schools and academies. Admitted to the Bar, 1845. Prosecuting Attorney, 
1854. Removed to Warren, Ohio, 1861. Judge of Court of Common Pleas, 
1877. Member of U. S. House of Representatives from Ohio, March 18, 
1879-March 4, 1893. 



Regent elected by Congress, August 10, 1846; reelected December 24, 1850, and 

January 28, 1857. 

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, August 23, 1788; died in Washington 
City, April 22, 1864. A. M., Brown, 1829. Graduated United States Mili- 
tary Academy, 1805. Secretary U. S. Survey of Ohio and the Territories, 
1806-08; Military Engineer, i8o8-'64; First Lieutenant, 1810; Captain, 
1813; Major, 1818; Lieutenant-Colonel, 1828; Colonel and Chief Engineer 
U. S. Army, 1838; Inspector U. S. Military Academy, 1838-64; State 
Commissioner for preservation of New York and Boston harbors. Served 

The Board of Regents 1 1 1 

in Mexican War, 1846. Member of Lighthouse Board, 1851-58, 1860-64. 
Brigadier-General, 1863. Major-General, 1864. Original Member of Na- 
tional Academy of Sciences, 1863. 



Regent ex officio, as Mayor of Washington, June, 1854-June, 1856. 

Born in Alexandria, Virginia, February 21, 181 1 ; died in Washmgton City, 
August II, 1857. Mayor of Washington City, June, 1854-June, 1856. 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed December 4, 1861 ; reappointed 

March 21, 1867. 

Born in Colchester, Connecticut, October 12, 1813; died in Chicago, Illi- 
nois, June 25, 1896. LL. D., Shurtleff, 1852 ; Yale, 1858; and Northwestern, 
1870. Principal of Academy in Georgia. Admitted to the Bar, 1837. Illinois 
Legislature, 1840. Secretary of State of Illinois, 1841-42. Judge of Supreme 
Court of Illinois, 1848. Elected Member of U. S. House of Representatives 
from Illinois, 1854. Member of U. S. Senate from Illinois, March 4, 1855- 
March 3, 1873. 



Regent ex officio, as President of the Senate /r<7 tevi., March 2, 1867. 

Born near Springfield, Massachusetts, October 27, 1800; died in Jefferson, 
Ohio, March 2, 1878. Public school education. Admitted to the Bar in 
Jefferson, Ohio, 1828. Prosecuting Attorney of Ashtabula County, Ohio, 
i835-'37. Member of Ohio Legislature, 1837-41. Presiding Judge of Third 
Judicial District, Ohio, i847-'5i. Member of U. S. Senate from Ohio, March 
4, 1851-March 3, 1869. U. S. Commissioner to Santo Domingo, 1871. 
President /r^ tern, of the Senate, April, 1865, and March 2, 1867. 



Regent ex officio, as Chief Justice of the United States, March 7, 1874. 

Born in Lyme, Connecticut, November 29, 1816; died in Washington City, 
March 23, 1888. A. B., Yale, 1837. LL. D., Yale, 1872 ; Kenyon, 1874; 
University of Ohio, 1879; and Columbia, 1887. Admitted to the Bar, Maumee 
City, Ohio, 1839. Member of Ohio Legislature, 1849-50. Counsel of United 
States before the Tribunal of Arbitration in Geneva, Switzerland. 1871-72. 
President of Ohio Constitutional Convention, 1873. Chief Justice of the 
United States, March 7, 1874-March 23, 1888. 

I 12 

The S7nithsonian htstitutmt 



Regent ex officio, as Mayor of Washington City, August 26, 1861-June, 1868. 

Born in Alexandria, Virginia, April 3, 1816 ; died in Washington City, March 
4, 1 88 1. Educated in Columbian College, Admitted to the Bar in Washing- 
ton City, 1836. U. S. Marshal for District of Columbia, 1849-53. Member 
of Common Council, 1848-49. Mayor of Washington City, August 26, 1861- 
June, 1868. Under his administration the first fine public-school buildings in 
the city were erected. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed February 26, 1856, 

Born in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, October 29, 1802 ; died in 
Atlanta, Georgia, 1881. Admitted to the Bar in Knoxville, Georgia, 1825. 
Member of Georgia Legislature, 1828-31. Judge of Superior Court of 
Georgia, 1833-40. Judge of Supreme Court of Georgia, 1845-53. Member 
of U. S. House of Representatives from Georgia, December 3, 1855-March 
3> 1857. Judge of the Supreme Court of Georgia and Chief Justice, 1872. 



Regent elected by Congress, May 13, 1884; reelected May 22, 1890. 

Born in Trenton, New Jersey, July 14, 1825 ; died in Hartford, Connecticut, 
September 4, 1894. A. B., Princeton, 1844. LL. D., Columbian University, 
1868. Studied Law. Associate Principal of New York Collegiate School, 
1848. Literary editor of the National Intelligencer in Washington, i85o-'56; 
its Chief Editor and Manager, i856-'65. Clerk of United States Court of 
Claims, 1865-67. President of St. John's College, Maryland, 1867. Profes- 
sor of Belles-lettres in Princeton, 1870-71, President of Columbian Uni- 
versity, 1871-94. President of Board of Trustees of Corcoran Art Gallery, 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed January 10, 1888; 
reappointed January 6, 1890, January 15, 1892, January 4, 1894, and December 
20, 1895. 

Born in Augusta, Georgia, September 10, 1836. Graduated United States 
Military Academy, 1859. Lieutenant United States Cavalry, i86o-'6i. Colo- 
nel, Brigadier-General, and Lieutenant-General in Confederate Army, and 
Senior Cavalry General, 1861-65. Admitted to the Bar, 1866. Member of 
U. S. House of Representatives from Alabama, March 4, 1881-March 3, 
1883, March 4, 1885-March 4, 1899. 

The Board of Regents 113 



Regent ex officio, as Vice-President of the United States, March 4, 1877- 

March 4, 1881. 

Born in Malone, New York, June 30, 1819; died in Malone, New York, 
June 4, 1887, A. B., University of Vermont, 1842. A. M., Dartmouth, 
1865. LL. D., University of Vermont, 1867; and Union, 1877. Admitted 
to the Bar in Malone, New York, 1845. U. S. District Attorney of Frankhn 
County, New York, 1845-49. Member of New York Legislature, i849-'5o. 
Member and President //v tern, of New York Senate, i858-'59. Member of 
U. S. House of Representatives from New York, December 3, 1860-July 17, 
1862, March 4, i869-March3, 1877. President of New York Constitutional 
Convention, i867-'68. Vice-President of the United States, March 4, 1877 
March 4, 1881. 



Regent elected by Congress, February 15, 1888; reelected March 19, 1894. 

Born in Homer, New York, November 7, 1832. Educated in Hobart Col- 
lege, New York. A. B., Yale, 1853. A. M., Yale, 1856. Ph. D., Jena, 
1889. LL. D., University of Michigan, 1867 ; Cornell, 1886 ; and Yale, 1888. 
L, H. D., Columbia, 1887. Professor of History and English Literature 
in University of Michigan, i857-'62. Member of New York Senate, 1863- 
'64. President of Cornell University, 1867, 1881-85. U. S. Commissioner 
to Santo Domingo, 1871. U. S. Minister to Germany, i879-'8i. U. S. 
Honorary Commissioner to Paris Exposition, 1878. U. S. Minister to Russia, 
1892-95. Member of U. S. Venezuelan Commission, 1896. First President 
of American Historical Association, 1884. 



Regent ex officio, as Vice-President of the United States, March 4, 1873- 

March 4, 1877. 

Born in Farmington, New Hampshire, February 16, 181 2; died in 
Washington City, November 22, 1875. A. M., Williams, i860. LL. D., 
Dartmouth, 1874. Member of Massachusetts Legislature, i84o-'43, 1850. 
President of Massachusetts Senate, i85i-'52. Member of State Constitutional 
Convention, 1853, Member of U. S. Senate from Massachusetts, February 
10, i855-March 3, 1873. Vice-President of the United States, i873-'75. 



Regent on behalf of the House of Representatives, appointed January 7, 1884 ; re- 
appointed January 12, 1886. Regent elected by Congress, January 14, 1896. 

Born in Jefferson County, Virginia, May 3, 1843. Educated in Charles- 
town Academy. A. B., Columbian, i860. LL. D., Columbian, 1883; 

114 The Smithsonian Institution 

Hampden-Sidney, 1886, and University of Mississippi; Tulane; and Central 
College, Missouri, 1895. Professor of Latin, Columbian College, 1865-71. 
Admitted to the Bar, 1871. President of West Virginia University, 1882. 
Member of U. S. House of Representatives from West Virginia, March 
4, 1883-March 4, 1895. Presidential Elector, 1880. Postmaster- General, 



Regent on behalf of the Senate, appointed March i, 1877. 

Born in Campbell County, Virginia, September 18, 182 1. M. D., Univer- 
sity of Virginia, 1840. Practised medicine, 1840-58. Major and Colonel in 
Confederate Army, 1861. Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia, January i, 1874. 
Member of U. S. Senate from Virginia, March 4, 1875-March 3, 1881. 



Regent elected by Congress, April 2, 1862; reelected January 11, 1868. 

Born in New York City, October 31, 1801 ; died in New Haven, Connec- 
ticut, July I, 1889. A. B., Yale, 1820. D. D., Harvard, 1847. LL. D., 
Wesleyan, 1845; and Harvard, 1886. Studied law in Philadelphia, 1821 ; 
Theology in Princeton, i82i-'23. Tutor in Yale, i823-'25. Licensed to 
preach, 1825. Professor of Greek Languages and Literature in Yale, 1831-46. 
President of Yale University, 1846-71. 


By George Brown Goode 



j^HE early history of American science is very 
closely connected with the life of Professor 

m Henry. Born with the present century, he 
participated in the early movements for the 
^'Sz^^ ^^^w^ g^ national organization of science. In his later 
years he was an acknowledged leader in the work of main- 
taining and extending these, in accordance with the tenden- 
cies of modern thouo-ht. 

Between 1827 — when he entered the little company of 
American investigators, at that time few in number, and for 
the most part young and inexperienced — and 1878, when he 
died, a recognized leader of a numerous and well-organized 
army of trained men, there intervened a full half century, and 
one which was of great significance in the history of the 
Western continents, since it was peculiarly a formative 
period for all those interests upon which the moral and 
intellectual welfare of our people depends. 


ii6 The Smithsonian htstitntion 

For two decades he lived in the laboratory and the lecture- 
room, and at the end of that period he was accepted as one of 
the world's great investigators, distinguished alike for skill 
and originality in experiment and for breadth and philo- 
sophic comprehensiveness in deduction. Three other dec- 
ades of his life were given to the organization and develop- 
ment of the scientific and educational interests of the nation. 

It is impossible to estimate the extent of the influence of 
those fifty years of intense, devoted toil, of constant, pains- 
taking effort, all directed toward one consistent end. Few 
men have combined so fully the characteristics of the scholar, 
the teacher, the organizer, and leader ; and few have been 
so placed that their capacities in such widely different fields 
of activity could be constantly employed. 

Henry's success as an administrator was unquestionably 
due to the versatility of his talents and to the catholicity of 
his sympathies, which forbade favoritism toward individual 
interests or men. His lofty character and self-sacrificing de- 
votion were so manifest in his face and in his actions that all 
were impressed by them, and thereby rendered incapable of 
opposition. Rivalry and enmity never entered into his rela- 
tions to those with whom he worked. The noblest and best 
of his associates were always valued and devoted friends, and 
there were few of the greatest of his countrymen, whether 
statesmen, divines, or men of letters, who were not proud to 
say that they knew him well and loved him. 

The organization of the Smithsonian Institution was the 
task to which his later years were devoted. This will always 
be regarded, by the few who appreciate the necessities and 
difficulties of scientific administration, as his most important 
achievement. There can be no doubt that he himself so re- 
garded it, since he felt justified in practically abandoning the 
career of an investigator at the time when it was full of the 

The Three Secretaries 117 

most brilliant promise, notwithstanding the protests of many 
who considered it a waste of high talent for him to give up 
his own investigations for the sake of providing opportunities 
for the work of others. 

The story of his administration will be found interwoven 
with that of the Institution in every chapter of this book. In 
this place attention will be directed chiefly to his contribu- 
tions to science and to his personal traits and interests. 


Joseph Henry was born in Albany, December 17, 1799. His 
father was William Henry, his mother was Annie Alexander. 
His grandparents on both sides, the Henrys and the Alexan- 
ders, came in the same ship from Scotland to the colony of 
New York on June 17, 1775, landing while the first guns 
of the American Revolution were sounding. 

During early childhood he lived in Albany, and from the 
age of seven to thirteen near the country village of Galway, 
in the adjoining county of Saratoga. 

He was seemingly an idle boy, whose mind was full of 
romance, and whose time was chiefly occupied in the read- 
ing of novels, poetry, and Shakspere. His young life was 
full of dreams, and the efforts of his relatives to induce him 
to give attention to practical matters were for a time fruitless. 
He was apprenticed to a watchmaker ; but, notwithstanding 
his natural taste for mechanism, the occupation was uncon- 
genial, and was soon abandoned. For the time the theater 
was more to his taste. When in Albany ^ visiting his rela- 

1 There was from 1813 to 1816 an excel- Samuel Drake, Henry Placide, Norah M. 
lent theater in Albany under the manage- Ludlow, and Frances Ann Denney (Mrs. 
ment of Mr. John Bernard, one of the best Drake), all of whom were noted in the his- 
of the English comedians, author of" Retro- tory of the American stage. See Sol Smith's 
spectus of the Stage " and " Rctrospectus of " Theatrical Apprenticeship," which was pub- 
America, 1 797-1 81 1." In his company were lished in Philadelphia in 1845. 

ii8 The Smithsonian Institution 

tives this was his chief interest. He became an amateur 
actor, organized a juvenile theatrical company, "The Ros- 
trum," and translated a play from the French, which his 
young friends acted under his direction. Thus, perhaps, 
were laid the foundations of subsequent success as a public 
speaker and presiding officer. 

His taste for books was first aroused by Sir Henry Brooke's 
" Fool of Quality," which he chanced to open when a boy of 
eight or ten. This philosophical romance aroused his interest 
in social problems, and led him through the pathway of fiction 
to form the habit of reading. 

President Porter has pointed out the intimate relationship 
between this early aimless life and his later career: 

" His early musings and questionings, his boyish sports 
and adventures, were fondly remembered by him as the in- 
spiration of his rational and scientific life. ' The cultivation 
of the imagination,' he writes, ' should be considered an es- 
sential part of a liberal education; and this may be spread 
over the whole course of instruction, for, like the reasoning 
faculties, the imagination may continue to improve until late 
in life.' ' Memory, imitation, imagination, and the faculty of 
forming mental habits exist in early life, while the judgment 
and reasoning faculties are of slow growth.' 'The order of 
nature is that of art before science, the entire concrete first 
and the entire abstract last.' These are wise and weighty 
words, but they are of special interest when we bethink our- 
selves that the writer, when he penned them, was doubtless 
all the while thinking of a dreaming boy, half buried in the 
grass, looking up wistfully into the sky, thinking wondrous 
thoughts too deep for tears, perhaps peopling with phantoms 
and fairies that world of nature which he subsequently pene- 
trated by those wise questionings and ingenious theories 
which his sagacious experiments turned into solid verities. 
He certainly could have been thinking of no one else when 
in the same connection he so positively affirms, ' The future 

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f'ical company, ^.■ 

um the F^ "*- ^- cii hl- 

irection. ihus, perhaps, 
success : 

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TJie Three Secretaries 119 

character of a child, and that of a man also, is in most cases 
formed probably before the age of seven years.' " 

It was not until 181 5 that he discovered the real tendency 
of his mind toward scholarship, through the instrumentality 
of a work entitled " Lectures on Experimental Philosophy, 
Astronomy, and Chemistry, intended chiefly for the Use of 
Young Persons," published in London, in 1809, by the Rev- 
erend George Gregory, D.D., editor of the "New Annual 
Register." The book, which the chance of fortune placed 
in his hands, is still preserved by his family, and upon one 
of its blank leaves, written by the hand of Henry, are the 
following words : 

" This book, although by no means a profound work, has, 
under Providence, exerted a remarkable influence on my 
life. It accidentally fell into my hands when I was about 
sixteen years old, and was the first book I ever read with 
attention. It opened to me a new world of thought and 
enjoyment ; invested things before almost unnoticed with 
the highest interest; fixed my mind on the study of nature, 
and caused me to resolve at the time of reading it that I 
would immediately commence to devote my life to the acqui- 
sition of knowledge. J. H." 

The purpose of his life having been determined, his future 
might easily have been predicted by any one familiar with his 
peculiar mental and physical endowments. An iron constitu- 
tion, capable of fatigueless effort for sixteen hours or more 
each day, year in and year out, and an indomitable will, even 
more powerful in control of self than in that of others, to- 
gether with a mind clear and original, shaped by many 
generations of ancestors living in the rural simplicity of old 
Scotland; a pleasing presence, and an attractive personality, 
were his heritage. The community in which he lived was 

I20 The Smithsoman Institution 

intelligent and liberal, and all gates were open to a young 
man of integrity and enterprise. 

He now entered upon serious work — first as a pupil in a 
night school ; then in the Albany Academy, as scholar and 
teacher ; later as a medical student, a private tutor, and a 
surveyor. At the age of twenty-six he was appointed Pro- 
fessor of Mathematics in the Albany Academy, and his 
scientific life was fairly begun. 

His famous paper in Silliman's "American Journal of 
Science," printed in January, 183 1, demonstrated his right to 
a place among advanced investigators in the field of electro- 
magnetism, and led to his election, in 1832, to the professor- 
ship of Natural Philosophy in the College of New Jersey, 
where he remained for fourteen years. Of his life at Prince- 
ton Professor Asa Gray has written : 

" Here he taught and investigated for fourteen fruitful and 
happy years ; here he professed the faith that was in him, 
entering into the communion of the Presbyterian Church, in 
which he and his ancestors were nurtured ; and here he 
developed a genius for education. One could count on his 
being a clear expositor, and his gifts for experimental illus- 
tration and for devising apparatus had been already shown. 
But now, as a college professor, the question, how to educate, 
came before him in a broader way. He appreciated, and he 
made his associates and pupils appreciate, the excellence of 
natural philosophy for mental discipline, for training at once 
both the observing and the reasoning faculties. A science 
which rises from the observation of the most familiar facts, 
and the questioning of these by experiment, to the considera- 
tion of causes, the ascertaining of laws, and to the most re- 
condite conceptions respecting the constitution of matter and 
the interplay of forces, offers discipline to all the intellectual 
powers, and tasks the highest of them. Professor Henry 
taught not only the elementary facts and general principles 
from a fresh survey of both, but also the methods of philo- 

The Three Secretaries 121 

sophical investigation, and the steps by which the widest 
generahzations and the seemingly intangible conceptions of 
the higher physics have been securely reached. He exercised 
his pupils in deducing particular results from admitted laws, 
and in then ascertaining whether what was thus deduced ac- 
tually occurred in nature ; and if not, why not. Though very 
few of a college class might ever afterward undertake a phys- 
ical or chemical investigation, all would, or should, be con- 
cerned in the acquisition of truth and its relations ; and by 
knowing how truth was won and knowledge advanced in one 
field of inquiry, they would gain the aptitude which any real 
investigation may give, and the confidence that springs from 
a clear view and a sure grasp of any one sul^ject. 

" He understood, as few do, the importance of analogy and 
hypothesis in science. Premising that hypothesis should al- 
ways be founded on real analogies and used interrogatively, 
he commended it as the prerequisite to experiment, and the 
instrument by which, in the hands of sound philosophers, most 
discoveries have been made. This free use of hypothesis as 
the servant and avant-courier of research — as means rather 
than end — is a notable characteristic of Henry." 

In 1830 he married his cousin Miss Harriet L. Alexander, 
who on the death of her father, Alexander Alexander, an 
active and successful business man of Schenectady, had come 
to live in Albany. It was largely through Henry's influence 
that her elder brother, Stephen Alexander, was called to 
Princeton in 1833, where he subsequently became" professor 
of astronomy. Mrs. Henry survived her husband but a few 
years, and died in Washington City on March 25, 1882. 

The memory of Henry is lovingly cherished at Princeton, 
where a bronze tablet by Augustus St. Gaudens was erected 
in 1885, to commemorate his connection with the University.-^ 

IThe memorial address delivered by'Ed- of the most eloquent and satisfactory appre- 
ward N. Dickerson, LL. D., upon the occa- ciations of the cliaracter and achievements of 
sion of the presentation of this tablet, is one Professor Henry. 

122 The Smithsonian Institution 


Henry's experimental work was done, for the most part, 
between 1826 and 1847. Many of his broader generaHzations 
were published later, though these were largely based upon 
the work of early years. 

His studies in electricity began in 1827, while he was a 
teacher in the Albany Academy, and it was not long before 
Sir David Brewster was moved to say: "On the shoulders 
of young Henry has fallen the mantle of Franklin ! " His 
laboratory work in Albany included the only continuous series 
of physical investigations which any one had up to that time 
attempted in America. 

In the course of these researches he transformed an ineffi- 
cient piece of electrical apparatus — the significance of which 
had been but partially understood by Ampere, Arago, and even 
Sturgeon, by whom it had been greatly improved — into the 
powerful electro-magnet, and laid the foundation for the most 
important discoveries of the century, — not only his own, but 
those of the great masters of Europe. The electro-magnet 
in 1828 was still an ineffective instrument. Barlow had tested 
its capabilities in London three years before, and had found 
its effect so diminished at the distance of only two hundred 
feet that he pronounced telegraphy by its use impossible. 

In Henry's hands the feeble toy of Sturgeon was converted 
into instruments of infinite possibilities. He made two dis- 
tinct forms of magnets, one capable of excitation at a distance, 
which he named the "intensity magnet"; another having 
possibilities of infinite development of strength, to which he 
gave the name of " quantity magnet." 

He so named the magnets because he had discovered that 
with the one, in order to overcome the resistance opposed to 
the passage of electricity by the long, fine wire of which it 

The Three Secretaries 123 

was composed and the long circuit in which it was placed, it 
was necessary to use an "intensity battery," — that is, a bat- 
tery of many plates — for the reason that this battery pos- 
sesses more electromotive force ; while with the other, formed 
of many coils of short, thick wire, offering less resistance, a 
"battery of quantity" should be employed. "I was the first," 
he wrote, " to point out this connection of the two kinds of 
battery with the two forms of the magnet in my paper in 
Silliman's Journal, January, 1831, and clearly to state that 
when magnetism was to be developed by means of a com- 
pound battery, one long coil was to be employed, and when 
the maximum effect was to be produced by a single battery 
a number of single strands were to be used." 

The importance of this discovery of the necessary law of 
proportion between the electromotive force in the battery and 
the resistance in the magnet cannot be too highly estimated ; 
not only does the telegraph depend upon this law, but every 
action of galvano-magnetism. 

As has well been said by his daughter, " he married the 
intensity magnet to the intensity battery, the quantity mag- 
net to the quantity battery, discovered the law by which their 
union was effected, and rendered their divorce forever impos- 
sible." The intensity magnet is that which is to-day in use 
in every telegraph system. 

With the discovery of these two agents began a new epoch 
in science and in the arts. They brought the force of electric- 
ity, hitherto only in part subdued, fully under the control of 
man. Before Henry, the only electro-magnet which had been 
made, though under the influence of a battery of 125 plates, 
was incapable of lifting more than nine pounds ; but he, after 
a few months of experiment, produced one which, with one 
pair of plates, sustained 39 pounds, or fifty times its own 
weight; in 1830, 750; in 1831, 2300; and in 1834, 3500 

124 ^^^ Smithsonian Institution 

pounds. These improvements rendered possible not only his 
own subsequent discoveries, but also those of Faraday, which 
began first to assume importance after the invention of 
Henry's magnets. 

The quantity magnet perfected by Henry in 1830 was the 
means by which both he and Faraday discovered magneto- 
electricity. It has been used in almost all electrical work, 
scientific or practical, which has since been attempted. Stur- 
geon wrote in 1832 : " Henry has been enabled to produce a 
magnetic force which completely eclipses every other in the 
whole annals of magnetism ; and no parallel is to be found 
since the miraculous suspension of the celebrated Oriental 
impostor in his iron coffin."^ 

"The importance of this discovery," wrote Professor Wil- 
liam B. Taylor of the intensity magnet, " can hardly be over- 
estimated. The magnetic 'spool' of fine wire — of a length 
tens and even hundreds of times that ever before employed 
for this purpose — was in itself a gift to science, which really 
forms an epoch in the history of electro-magnetism. It is 
not too much to say that almost every advancement which 
has been made in this fruitful branch of physics since the time 
of Sturgeon's happy improvement, from the earliest researches 
of Faraday downward, has been directly indebted to Henry's 
magnets. By means of the Henry ' spool ' the magnet almost 
at a bound was developed from a feeble childhood to a vigor- 
ous manhood. And so rapidly and generally was the new 
form introduced abroad among experimenters, few of whom 
had ever seen the papers of Henry, that probably very few in- 
deed have been aware to whom they were really indebted for 
this familiar and powerful instrumentality. But the historic 
fact remains, that prior to Henry's experiments in 1829, no 
one on either hemisphere had ever thought of winding the 
limbs of an electro-magnet on the principle of the 'bobbin,' 
and not till after the publication of Henry's method in January 
of 1 83 1, was it ever employed by any European physicist. 

"^ Philosophical Magazine, London, March, 1832, Volume xi, page 199. 

The TJiree Secretaries 125 

" But in addition to this large grift to science, Henry (as 
we have seen) has the preeminent claim to popular gratitude 
of having first practically worked out the differing functions 
of two entirely different kinds of electro-magnet : the one 
surrounded with numerous coils of no great length, desig- 
nated by him the ' quantity' magnet, the other surrounded 
with a continuous coil of very great length, designated by 
him the ' intensity ' magnet. The latter and feebler system 
(requiring for its action a battery of numerous elements,) 
was shown to have the singular capability (never before 
suspected or imagined) of subtle excitation from a distant 
source. Here for the first time is experimentally established 
the important principle that there must be a proportion be- 
tween the aggregate internal resistance of the battery and 
the whole external resistance of the conjunctive wire or con- 
ducting circuit. This was a very important though uncon- 
scious experimental confirmation of the mathematical theory 
of Ohm, embodied in his formula expressing the relation be- 
tween electric flow and electric resistance, which, though pro- 
pounded two or three years previously, failed for a long time 
to attract any attention from the scientific world. 

" Never should it be forgotten that he who exalted the 
'quantity' magnet of Sturgeon from a power of twenty pounds 
to a power of twenty hundred pounds, was the absolute crea- 
tor of the 'intensity' magnet; and that the principles in- 
volved in this creation, constitute the indispensable basis of 
every form of the electro-magnetic telegraph since invented."^ 

The first labor in which this infant giant was employed 
was to demonstrate the practicability of the telegraph. By 
its aid Henry was enabled in 1829 or 1830 to pass a current 
throuorh a wire 1060 feet in length and to lift at its end a 
considerable weight. 

"This was the first discovery of the fact that a galvanic 
current could be transmitted to a great distance with so little 
diminution of force as to produce mechanical effects." So 
said Henry in 1857, critically reviewing the progress of elec- 

1 Taylor, W'illiam B. "Memorial of Joseph Henry," page 226. 


126 The Smithsonian Institution 

trical science during the period of nearly thirty years which 
had elapsed since this early experiment was made/ 

To strike signals upon a bell at the distance of 8000 feet 
was a result accomplished in the same year in the commence- 
ment hall of the Albany Academy. The importance of this 
experiment in connection with the history of the telegraph is 
discussed at greater length elsewhere. 

All these experiments were made in the autumn and early 
winter of 1829 or 1830, as seems to be very clearly shown by 
Miss Mary A. Henry in her recent essays.^ The fixing of 
these dates is of considerable moment, since upon them de- 
pend the dates of two other discoveries, that of self-induction 
and that of magneto-electricity. 

The former, that of the so-called "extra current," made 
August, 1829 or 1830, though it was not announced until 
1832,^ is now conceded to him by all* and it was chiefly in 
recognition of the discovery of self-induction that his name 
was given to the standard unit of inductive resistance 
at the International Congress of Electricians in Chicago, in 
August, 1893, thus bestowing upon him, as Mendenhall ex- 
presses it, " the high honor of a place in the galaxy of famous 
physicists whose names shall be perpetuated in the metro- 
logical nomenclature of all languages." At this congress, 
composed of twenty-six representative men of science, from 
nine great nations, Professor von Helmholtz presided. 

" It was gratifying to the American delegates in the 
Chamber at Chicago," writes Mendenhall,^ " that the motion 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1857, page 1 10. 3 A7tierkan Journal of Science, 1832, Vol- 

2 Henry, Mary A., "America's Part in the ume xxil, page 403. 

Discovery of Magneto-Electricity — A Study 4 This was, in 1834, rediscovered by Fara- 

of the Work of Faraday and Henry." I-V, day, who did not until some time after per- 

The Electrical Engineer, 1892, Volume xiil, ceive the relation of his work to that which 

page 27 et seq. "The Electro-Magnet; or had preceded. 

Joseph Henry's Place in the History of the 5 Mendenhall, T. C, "The Henry," At- 

Electro-Magnetic Telegraph," I-XII ; //'/(/., lantic Monthly, \o\\\m& i.xxill, pages 613- 

XVII, 1894, page I et seq. 614, No. 439, May, 1894. 

The Three Secretaries 127 

to adopt * henry ' as the name of this unit came from Professor 
Mascart, the distinguished leader of the French delegation, 
for among the French, some years ago, another name, the 
'quadrant' or 'quad' had been proposed, and since that 
time much used ; that it was seconded by one of the leading 
delegates from England, Professor Ayrton, who had himself, 
a few years ago, proposed the word 'sec-ohm,' as being a 
proper name for the unit of induction, a proposition which for 
a time found much favor; and finally, that it received the 
unanimous approval of the entire Chamber, thus furnishing a 
testimonial of the highest order of the estimation in which the 
work of Joseph Henry is held, and a recognition of his rank 
as a natural philosopher which some of his own countrymen 
have been somewhat tardy to appreciate and acknowledge." 

The discovery of magneto-electric induction in 1830 fol- 
lowed that of the extra or self-inductive current, which, for that 
matter, Henry always maintained should be considered to be 
identical with magneto-electricity,^ and in connection with 
which he, first of all men, obtained electrical manifestations 
from a magnet. 

"An electric current," writes Kennelly, "was in 18 19 found 
[by Oersted] to have magnetic properties. Here in 1830 
the converse relation was first noticed, [by Henry] that a 
conductor in motion through magnetized space developed 
electrical properties. The propositions in these terms did 
not receive full proof or recognition for some years, but Henry 
seems to have been the first to observe an electrical cur- 
rent induced by a magnet." - 

Faraday made the same discovery in 1831 with the aid of 
Henry's two forms of magnets, and was the first to print the 

1 The Electrical Engineer, March 9, 1892, American Inventions," in " The United States 
Volume XVII, page 249. of America," edited by X. S. Shaler, New 

2 Kennelly, A. E., in chapter on "Typical York, 1894, Volume II, page 143. 

128 The Smithsonian Institution 

results of his observations.^ Since discovery without announce- 
ment cannot claim a place in history, except as a matter of 
biographical incident, this discovery is generally accredited 
to him. It is proper that this should be so, and Henry him- 
self was too generous a man ever publicly to claim any honor 
in this connection. He often, however, mentioned to his 
friends the fact that he had anticipated Faraday by nearly a 

It is even pathetic to read the words of praise which he 
somewhere printed concerning Faraday, speaking of him as 
"the discoverer of magneto-electricity, which had made his 
name immortal." 

It surely cannot be unjust to the memory of Faraday that 
Henry should stand in the records of science as an original 
and independent discoverer of magneto-electricity, nor just 
to Henry, not to state the fact, that, although anticipated in 
publication, he was actually the first. 

While in Albany he constructed the electro-magnetic en- 
gine, which will be referred to later, and also, as his daughter 
has shown, began the construction of an instrument corre- 
sponding to the modern dynamo.^ 

After his removal to Princeton, he carried on many re- 

1 It was by the same means that Faraday Unfortunately he failed to publish his dis- 
subsequently investigated the phenomena covery. In continuing his remarks, he added 
of magnetism, and the effect of magnetic that Faraday, some time after, successfully 
action upon polarized light. See Franklin L. tried the same experiment, and at once an- 
Pope, Joicrnal of the American Electrical nounced it, before Professor Henry's success 
Society, 1879, Volume II, page 126. was publicly known." 

2 George W. Carpenter, his associate and The Reverend Doctor Cuyler, one of his 
assistant in Albany, in 1826-32, writes : "In earliest pupils in Princeton, said he often 
a well remembered conversation with me he spoke to him of his disappointment about 
alluded to an incident in his own experience. that discovery. " I ought to have published 
After retinng one night, he worked out men- earlier," he used to say. "I ought to have 
tally how he could probably draw a spark pul^lislied, but I had so little time. I desired 
from the magnet. Upon rising in the morning to get out my results in good form, and how 
he hurried to his working room, arranged could I know that another on the other side of 
the apparatus, tried the experiment, when the Atlantic was busy with the same thing? " 
success crowned his labor. He had accom- 3 The Electrical Engineer, Volume Xlli, 
plished what had never been done before. pages 54, 251. 

The T J tree Secretaries 129 

searches, all of which are described in Doctor Taylor's well- 
known discourse.^ There he prosecuted his later studies 
upon induction. He developed his apparatus for the combi- 
nation of circuits, the principle of which underlies the various 
forms and uses of the relay magnet, and the receiving magnet 
and local battery, since employed in the telegraph. He car- 
ried on his classical investigations upon successive orders of 
induction.^ He found that a second induced current could 
induce a third, and the third a fourth, and so on indefinitely ; 
that a current of intensity could produce one of quantity, and 
the converse ; and that these currents could be induced at a 
distance. He obtained an induced current in one room from a 
primary current in the next room. From two wires stretched 
perpendicularly several hundred feet apart, and finally con- 
necting the tin roof of his house with his study, he mag- 
netized needles by induction from a thundercloud eight miles 

The discovery of the oscillatory character of the discharge 
from the Leyden jar — one of his most important contribu- 
tions to science — followed in 1842. He ascertained that in 
the discharge of a jar an equilibrium is not instantaneously 
effected by the spark, but is attained only after several oscil- 
lations of the flow; a fact which was not only in itself signifi- 
cant, but led to important advances in theory.^ As Doctor 
Oliver Lodge has shown, the explanations offered by him in 
connection with these early experiments were almost pro- 
phetic of the great generalizations subsequently made by 
Clerk-Maxwell and others, but which in the state of electrical 

1 Taylor, William B., " The Scientific Work 3 See Barker, George F., " Physics," New 

of Joseph Henry." Bulletin of the Philo- York, 1892, page 613; Lodge, Oliver J., 

sophkal Society of Washington, 1878, Vol- " Modern Views of Electricity," London, 

ume II, page 230. "Memorial of Jo;,eph 1889, page 369; Taylor, W. B., "Memorial 

Henry," 1880, pages 205-425. of Joseph Henry," page 255; Houston, 

'-2 Transactions American Philosophical So- Edwin J.," Electricity a Hundred Years Ago 

ciety, 1838, Volume vi, page 303. and To-day," New York, 1894, page 61. 

130 The Smithsonian Institution 

science at that day it was impossible that any finite mind 
should have reached. 

In addition to his brilliant contributions to electrical science, 
he carried on studies in many other departments of physics. 
Those in meteorology were very extensive. His experiments 
upon the effect of the discharge of lightning from the clouds, 
and upon the condition of lightning-rods while transmitting 
discharges of electricity, were perhaps the most conspicuous 
of these. In molecular physics his attention was given to 
capillary absorption and the cohesion of liquids, as well as 
to a discussion of the atomic hypothesis of Newton. 

He made investigations on certain phenomena connected 
with light and heat. By his experiments on the phosphoro- 
genic ray of the sun, he first demonstrated that it is polariza- 
ble and refrangible by the laws which govern light. In con- 
nection with Professor Alexander, he carried on a series of 
experiments on the relative heat-radiating power of the sun- 
spots. He reflected heat from concave mirrors of ice, and 
from his experiments drew conclusions as to the source of the 
heat derived from the moon. He constructed a thermal-tele- 
scope, composed of a common pasteboard tube, covered with 
gilt paper and blackened internally, with which he measured 
the heat of distant objects : with this he could detect the heat 
of a man's face a mile off, and that of a house five miles off; 
and with it ascertained that the coldest spot of the sky is at 
the zenith. He also invented the method now generally em- 
ployed for determining by the use of electricity the velocity 
of the flight of projectiles. 

Not only in ingenious experiment and the interpretation of 
its results, not only in the practical application of Nature's 
laws, but still more in his philosophical comprehension of 
Nature was manifested the greatness of Henry. The English 
physicist Fleming, in a recent work, writes : 

The Three Secretaries i ^ i 

"At the head of this long line of illustrious investigators 
stand the preeminent names of Faraday and Henry. On 
the foundation-stones of truth laid down by them all sub- 
sequent builders have been content to rest. The 'Experi- 
mental Researches' of the one have been the guide of the 
experimentalist no less than the instructor of the student, 
since their orderly and detailed statement, alike of triumph- 
ant discovery and of suggestive failure, make them indepen- 
dent of any commentator. The ' Scientific Writings' of 
Henry deserve hardly less careful study, for in them we have 
not only the lucid explanations of the discoverer, but the sug- 
gestions and ideas of a most profound and inventive mind, 
and which indicate that Henry had earl)- touched levels of 
discovery only just recently becoming fully worked." 

Such praise as this is excellent evidence of the influence of 
Henry's discoveries upon the marvelous progress of electri- 
city during the past five or ten years, and what Fleming has 
written concerning electricity is equally true of his work in 
many other branches of science. 


The relation of Henry to the beginnings of the telegraph 
have been for half a century the subject of much discussion 
and of controversies in which, during his lifetime, he stead- 
fastly refused to participate. In 1857, however, statements 
were made concerning- some of his acts which he felt it his 
duty to bring to the attention of the Board of Regents, by 
whom his relation to the whole matter was carefully inves- 
tigated. The testimony presented by himself and others at 
this time is of the greatest interest and importance. 

It is not my purpose to make far-reaching claims for him, 
yet a biographical sketch would be incomplete which should 

132 The Smithsonian Institution 

make no reference to the facts upon which such claims have 
been founded by others. 

His own position in regard to these matters should not be 
misunderstood. He was professedly a discoverer, and not an 
"inventor." He said: "My ambition is to add to the sum 
of human knowledge by the discovery of new truths which 
may be of some use to the world. The practical application 
of these I leave to others." When asked why he had not 
patented his application of the electro-magnet to the tele- 
graph, he only replied, simply: "I thought it unbecoming 
the dignity of true science to curtail the use of discovery to 
personal and selfish uses ; on the contrary, I thought it right 
to give it to the world as a means of advancing humanity." 

His testimony on behalf of the defendant in the Supreme 
Court case of Morse vs. O'Reilly, in 1849, is convincing evi- 
dence of his magnanimity, for he made no allusion to his own 
experiment in Albany in which long-distance telegraphic 
signals had been made. " Had he done so," writes Pope, 
"and had others then living and familiar with the circum- 
stances been brought forward to corroborate his statement, 
the result would inevitably have proved fatal to Morse's 
claim to the process of producing sound-signals at a distance 
by electro-magnetism, and would virtually have thrown the 
whole invention open to the public, a result which Henry 
could not but have foreseen." 

Before Henry's magnets, and his discoveries in relation to 
them, had been made, the modern telegraph was still an im- 
possibility. It is true that when he began his work the idea 
of an electro-telegraph was nearly a century old. Morrison, 
of Greenock, Scotland, had as early as i 753 suggested a prac- 
tical mode of transmitting messages by frictional electricity, 
and galvanic and chemical telegraphs had been in use from 
the time of Salva of Barcelona to that of the first projects of 

The Three Secretaries 133 

Davy and Morse. The modern, or electro-magnetic, tele- 
graph was not proposed, however, until 1820, after the revi- 
val by Oersted of the knowledge of the power of the galvanic 
current to deflect a suspended magnetic needle. 

The " needle-telegraph," that in which intelligence is trans- 
mitted by the motion of the galvanoscopic indicator, was the 
form to which the attention of European theorists and in- 
vestigators was now directed. Ampere, before 1823, had 
worked out the theory of a telegraph with several needles. 
The first operative system of this type was that devised in 
1828 by Triboaillet, who employed a single wire and a gal- 
vanoscopic indicator. Schilling exhibited in Russia in 1832 
a single-circuit instrument with thirty-six needles. This was 
improved and used in experimental work at a distance of 
9000 feet in Gottingen, in 1833, by Gauss and Weber, who 
utilized the discoveries of Henry and Faraday.^ The needle- 
indicator used by these investigators was essentially the same 
as that still occasionally employed, especially in connection 
with long submarine cables. 

The other form of telegraph is that in which sounds and 
permanent signs are made by the attraction of an electro- 
magnet. It was this system which Henry devised and used 
in a simple form, and this which Morse and his staff, 
acting avowedly under the advice of Henry, were first to 
develop into a practical agency for the transmission of 
words. Henry was the first, as already remarked, to demon- 
strate the fact that a galvanic current could be transmitted to 
a great distance with so little diminution of force as to pro- 
duce mechanical effects adequate to telegraphic uses. He 
actually constructed, and operated in Albany, as early as 
1830, the first electro-magnetic machine for producing at will 
sounds that could be heard at a distance, and published at 

1 Gray, Thomas, "Proceedings and Addresses, Patent Centennial Celebrations," page i8i. 

134 The Smithsonian Instihition 

this time a statement that the improvements made by him 
were "directly appHcable to the project of forming an electro- 
magnetic telegraph."^ 

In other words, he was the first to construct and use an 
electro-magnetic acoustic telegraph of a type similar to that 
which is at present more generally employed than any other 
form. The code of signals now in general use was yet to be 
invented. Provided with such a code, any operator could, by 
the use of Henry's apparatus, have transmitted, in 183 1, mes- 
sages of unlimited length, though of course at slow speed. ^ 

Before Henry made his magnets, and his discoveries in re- 
lation to them, the telegraph was an impossibility, for until 
then science was not ripe for the telegraph. Henry's inten- 
sity magnet was the only electro-magnet which had ever 
responded to electrical influence at any distance. Before it 
was created there could be no electro-magnetic telegraph. 
Equally essential was his discovery of the law by which mag- 
net and battery were bound together in mutual proportion. 

Henry was also the first to use the earth for a return cir- 
cuit, although the credit for this is usually given to Steinheil. 
This practice was in some degree foreshadowed by Watson 
and Franklin, both of whom used water to conduct a return 
current. Watson in this manner lighted alcohol on the further 
side of a pond ; Franklin, across the river Schuylkill. Watson 
passed a current through the earth ; Franklin immediately 
showed by experiment that this was due to the constant 
moisture of the earth. It was Henry, however, who first 
practically used the earth for a return current. It is true that 

3 Atnerican Journal of Science, January, telegraph was the invention of the steel style 

1831, Volume XIX, page 404. in the extremity of the sounding lever, and a 

2 The introduction of the second voltaic bat- grooved roller into which it could strike the 

tery rendered possible results in respect to paper as it was drawn onward over the roller 

speed not at that time within the range of to emboss upon it the alphabetical characters, 

human achievements. All that was needed (F. O. J. Smith, letter to the Regents of the 

to perfect Henry's invention into a recording Smithsonian Institution, March 30, 1S72.) 

The Three Secretaries 135 

in his testimony before the Supreme Court in 1849, he, with 
characteristic modesty, alluded to Steinheil as a discoverer of 
this use of the earth, ^ In 1876, however, with the fuller 
knowledge which he then possessed, he wrote to Reverend 
S. B. Dod in Princeton : 

" I think the first actual line of telegraph, using the earth 
as a conductor, was made in the beginning of 1836. A wire 
was extended across the front campus of the college grounds, 
[in Princeton] from the upper story of the library building to 
the philosophical hall on the opposite side, the ends termi- 
nating in two wells. Through this wire, signals were sent, 
from time to time, from my house to my laboratory."^ 

Another step was his device, used in Princeton as early as 
1833, of opening one circuit by means of another. By this 
he was able to carry out his plan of utilizing the power of a 
quantity magnet at great distances, through the agency of the 
more sensitive intensity magnet. Of the utmost importance 
has this combination proved to the telegraph — its principle 
underlying all the various forms and uses of the relay magnet 
and the receiving magnet and local battery since employed.^ 

"One morning," writes Professor Trowbridge, "he came 
into my laboratory at Cambridge, and, after I had shown him 
various pieces of scientific apparatus, he stood before an elec- 
tro-magnet which was working a relay and looked long at 
the magnet, and then at the battery which was coupled for 
quantity, and remarked in a quiet tone, as if half to himself. 
' If I had patented that arrangement of magnet and battery 
I should have reaped great pecuniary reward for my discovery 
of the practical method of telegraphy.' " 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1857, page 113. 3 A circuit-breaker made and used by 

2 "Memorial of Joseph Henry, "' i8So, Henry in Princeton is now in the United 
page 150. States National Museum. 

136 The Smithsonian Instittition 

Sir Charles Wheatstone, who, with his associate, Sir Wil- 
liam Fothergill Cooke, developed the system of Schilling after 
it left the hands of Gauss and Weber, was the first to bring 
tlie telegraph into practical commercial use ; and although 
his plan, involving as it did the employment of a number of 
separate line wires and needle-indicators, was soon abandoned 
on account of its expense and perplexity, it is still the popular 
belief in England that Wheatstone was the inventor of the 
electric telegraph. The reason for this is, in part, that he was 
the first in England to secure patents for the telegraph; and, 
in part also, that he at one time claimed to have been the 
discoverer of the intensity magnet. There is, nevertheless, 
good reason to believe that Wheatstone was directly indebted 
to Henry for the information which enabled him to utilize the 
intensity magnet in connection with his telegraph. He was 
engaged in his experiments when visited by Henry and 
Bache at King's College, in April, 1837, and his apparatus 
was examined and his plans discussed by them. He had al- 
ready found the electro-magnet inefficient as a sound-signal, 
and was endeavoring to introduce a secondary circuit as a 
remedy for the diminution of force encountered in the long 
circuit. Henry has recorded that he then explained to 
Wheatstone a different method of bringing the second gal- 
vanic circuit into action, and it was Henry's method which 
Wheatstone employed in his final successes.^ 

"It is evident," writes Mr. Fahie, an English expert, "that 
it was not until after the interview with Henry that Wheat- 
stone recognized the applicability of Ohm's law to tele- 
graphic circuits."^ Mr. Fahie, however, ignores the fact that 
it was Henry's discovery, and not Ohm's formula, which was 

1 Cooke records that on many occasions in 2 Fahie, J. J., " A History of Electric Tele- 
March and April the efforts of Wheatstone graphy to the Year 1837," London, 1884, 
and himself to excite magnetism at long dis- page 515. 
tances were unsuccessful. 

The Three Secretaries 137 

adopted by Wheatstone, for Ohm's law was at that time un- 
known in England, as well as in America. 

Although Wheatstone in his controversy with Cooke, in 
1 84 1, claimed as his own the discovery that electro-magnets 
may be so constructed as to produce the required effects by 
means of a direct current, even in very long circuits, he sub- 
sequently, in 1856, referring to the same early experiments, 
wrote: "With this law and its applications, no persons iii 
England who had loefore, occupied themselves with experi- 
ments relating to electric telegraphs, had been acquainted."^ 
This can only be interpreted as an admission of Henry's 
priority." There was never, it is true, an acknowledgment 
from Wheatstone of his indebtedness to Henry for advice 
which enabled him to perfect his experiment in 1837; but, as 
has been pointed out, it is a very significant fact that in 
March, 1837. the magnet was discarded by Wheatstone ; in 
April his interview with Henry took place, and in April the 
magnet was again employed and the success of the English 
telegraph secured. 

The following summary is quoted from a well-known Eng- 
lish authority : 

" It was only by Henry's discoveries that the electro-mag- 
netic telegraph of Morse became possible, and Morse himself, 
before he became involved in patent ligitation, freely acknow- 
ledged his indebtedness to Henry. But Professor Henry, long 
before Morse's telegraph came before the world, had sug- 
gested the application of his electro-magnets to telegraphy, 
and had even constructed a form of bell-telegraph for experi- 
mental purposes which answered remarkably well. Henry, 
however, had for his object 'the advancement of science, 

1 Cooke, William Fothergill, " The Elec- 2 The Electrical Engineer, January 13, 

trie Telegraph: Was it Invented by Pro- 1892, Volume xili, page 30 (footnote) ; Pope, 

fessor Wheatstone ? " Part li, London, 1857, Franklin Leonard, "Life and Work of 

page 57. A series of controversial papers Joseph Henry," iS"]^, Journal 0/ the Ameri- 

between Cooke and Wheatstone. can Electrical Society, Volume 11, page 134. 


138 The Smithsonian Institution 

without any special or immediate reference to its application 
to the wants of life or useful purposes in the arts.' He 
sought no patents for inventions, and solicited no remunera- 
tion for his labors, other than credit for having done what it 
was in him to do for the promotion of scientific knowledge. 
He gave freely to the world the results of his researches, and 
others devoted themselves to the practical applications of the 
principles which he discovered. Of these were not only 
Morse in America, but Wheatstone and Cooke in this coun- 
try. It has been amply demonstrated that these inventors 
were at a standstill in the early part of 1837 for the want of a 
means of producing a strong effect at the receiving station. 
Although Henry had clearly shown the advantage of employ- 
ing closely wound coils of fine wire in 1831, Wheatstone 
knew nothing apparently of this, and remained in ignorance 
until April, 1837, when he was enlightened by Professor 
Henry himself. We are firmly convinced that Henry did 
more for the advancement of the telegraph than has ever yet 
been adequately acknowledged." ^ 

Another practical outgrowth of his early investigations in 
connection with which his name has less frequently been 
mentioned, because perhaps there has been less controversy 
in regard to its history, was the production of mechanical 
power by electro-magnetism. 

Henry in 1829 constructed the first electro-magnetic motor, 
an oscillating machine with automatic pole-changer. This he 
described in 1831." In 1833 Sturgeon constructed the first 
rotary motor, which he exhibited to the learned men in Lon- 
don, giving to Henry credit for priority in construction of 
electro-magnetic engines. 

The English electrician Joule writes : 

"It is to the ingenious American philosopher that we are 
indebted for the first form of the working model of an engine 

1 Electrical Revic7v, London, August 12, 1887, Volume xxi, page 162. 
2 American Jomita I of Science, 183 1, Volume xx, page 340. 

The Three Secretaries 139 

upon the principle of reciprocating- polarity of soft iron by 
electro-dynamic agency." ^ 

Henry's oscillating machine was the forerunner of all our 
modern electrical motors. The rotary motor of to-day is the 
direct outgrowth of his improvement in magnets. 

It should also be stated that he had as early as 1832, or 
before, applied one of his great magnets to the separation of 
magnetic iron from other substances, and in 1833 this system, 
which has since become one of great industrial importance, 
was put into actual use at the Penfield Iron-Works, in the 
village of Port Henry, named at that time in honor of the 
Albany professor. 

Thomas Davenport, a blacksmith from Salisbury, Vermont, 
who visited the Port Henry iron-works about this time, 
bought one of the magnets and used it in the experiments 
which led not only to the construction by him of the earliest 
operating rotary motors, but which within two years led " to 
the beginning of the electric railroad; for he exhibited in 
1835, in Springfield, Troy, and Philadelphia, not only rotary 
motors in action, but a model engine carrying its own magnet, 
which ran around upon a circular track. 

Even more sicrnificant than the invention of this enoflne 
was Henry's philosophic and far-reaching appreciation of 
what it meant for the future. "So far from giving way to the 
natural enthusiasm of the successful inventor," writes Pope, 
** Henry proceeded, with calm sobriety of judgment, to fore- 
cast the future possibilities of the new motor. He was soon 
led to see that under the conditions of knowledge then exist- 
ing, the power could only be derived from the oxidation of 
zinc in a galvanic battery, and hence the heat energy re- 

1 Joule, James P., " Historical Sketch of the cal, Statistical, and Technical."' A paper read 
Rise and Progress of Electro-magnetic En- before the New York Electric Club, January 
gines for Propelling Machinery." 22, 1891, by Franklin Leonard Pope. See 

2 " Notes on the Electric Railway : Histori- The Electrical Etigimer, January 28, 1891. 

140 The Smithsonian Institution 

quired in the original smelting of the metal must represent at 
least an equal amount of power. Hence his conclusion that 
the fuel required for that purpose might with better advan- 
tage be employed directly in performing the required work. 

"While feeling thus sure that electricity could not hope to 
compete with, much less to supersede, steam as a primary 
source of power, Henry, nevertheless, did not hesitate to pre- 
dict that the electric motor was destined in the future to oc- 
cupy an extensive field of usefulness, particularly in applica- 
tions in which absolute theoretical economy was subordinate 
to more important considerations. 

" Time has shown that Henry's conception of the legitimate 
held of the electric motor was prophetically accurate.' 

" 1 


With the oreanization of the Smithsonian Institution in 
1846 came an entire change in Henry's life. Many years 
before, while he was still a teacher in Albany, Smithson had 
died in Genoa, leaving his bequest "for the increase and dif- 
fusion of knowledge among men." When Henry first visited 
Europe, in 1837, the bequest had only just become known, 
and the claim of the United States was in course of prosecu- 
tion in London. To this circumstance may, perhaps, be at- 
tributed the interest which he seemed always to have felt in 
the disposition of the Smithson fund. In the fall of 1846, after 
the Regents of the new Institution had been appointed, a 
committee of their own number was chosen to digest a plan 
to carry out the provisions of the Act to establish the Smith- 
sonian Institution. Henry's advice was sought by them, and 
the plan proposed by him was embodied in the report which 
they presented to the Board on the first of December. It 

1 The Electrical Engineer, London, February 13, 1891, Volume Vll, page 169. 

The Three Secretaries 141 

was with a knowledge of this fact that, at their meeting of 
December 3, he was elected to the Secretaryship, after the 
following resolutions had been passed: 

" Resolved, That it is essential, for the advancement of the 
proper interests of the trust, that the Secretary of the Smith- 
sonian Institution be a man possessing weight of character, 
and a high grade of talent ; and that it is further desirable 
that he possess eminent scientific and general acquirements ; 
that he be a man capable of advancing science and promoting 
letters by original research and effort, well qualified to act as 
a respected channel of communication between the Institution 
and scientific and literary individuals and societies in this and 
foreign countries ; and, in a word, a man worthy to represent 
before the world of science and of letters the institution over 
which this Board presides." 

" It does not need to be said," writes Doctor Welling, " that 
Professor Henry did not seek this appointment. It came to 
him unsolicited, but it came to him from the Board of Regents, 
not only by the free choice of its members, but also at the 
suggestion and with the approval of European men of science 
like Sir David Brewster, Faraday, and Arago, as also of 
American scientific men like Bache and Silliman and Hare. 
I well remember to have heard the late George M. Dallas (a 
member of the constituent Board of Regents by virtue of his 
office as Vice-President of the United States) make the re- 
mark on a public occasion, immediately after the election of 
Professor Henry as Director of the Smithsonian Institution, 
that the Board had not had the slightest hesitation in tender- 
ing the appointment to him * as being peerless among the 
recoQfnized heads of American science.' " 

He accepted the election on December 7, and on the 21st 
appeared at a meeting of the Board of Regents and en- 
tered upon the duties of his ofiice. The first duty imposed 


142 The Smithsonian Instihttion 

upon him by the Board was the preparation of a program 
of organization, which was presented on December 8, 1847, 
and in its essential features adopted on the 13th. By this 
•'Plan of Organization" and the brief essay in which it was 
explained and illustrated, the future character of the Institu- 
tion was determined. It was shown that the Institution is not 
a national establishment in the sense in which institutions 
dependent on the government are so, and that its operations 
ought to be mingled as little as possible with those of the 
government, and its funds applied exclusively and faithfully 
to the diffusion of knowledge among men ; that the bequest 
is intended for the benefit of mankind in general, and that its 
influence ought not to be restricted to a single district or even 
nation ; that the terms "increase" and "diffusion" of know- 
ledge are logically distinct, and should be literally interpreted 
with reference to the will ; that the increase of knowledge 
should be effected by the encouragement of original re- 
searches of the highest character and its diffusion by the pub- 
lication of the results of original research, by means of the 
publication of a series of volumes of original memoirs ; that 
the operations of the Institution should not be restricted in 
favor of any particular kind of knowledge, though if prefer- 
ence is to be given to any branches of research, they should 
be to the higher and apparently more abstract, to the dis- 
covery of new principles rather than of isolated facts. 

These were, in brief, the principles announced in this mas- 
terly treatise. 

In the second part of the program propositions were 
made in regard to the promotion of certain interests pre- 
scribed in the plan adopted by Congress: the accumulation 
and care of collections of objects of nature and art, the de- 
velopment of a library, the providing of courses of lectures, 
and the organization of a national system of meteorological 

The Three Secretaries 143 

It was from the beginning Henry's belief that expenditures 
from the Smithson fund for objects such as those last men- 
tioned were not justifiable, and that museums, libraries, and 
lectures, being in one sense local objects, should be supported 
from the revenues of the government. Still more strenuously 
was he opposed to the erection of an expensive building, and 
by painstaking economy during his long period of office he 
succeeded in restoring to the fund the amount which, in his 
opinion, had been improperly invested in stone and mortar. 
He never ceased to urge upon the Regents and upon Con- 
gress the impropriety of burdening the legacy of the founder 
with expenditures which he deemed in large degree local, 
either to the City of Washington or to the United States, and 
to urge that "the bequest was intended for the benefit of man 
in general." As the result of this policy he had the satis- 
faction, before his death, of seeing the library, which soon 
became great and cumbersome, received and cared for at 
government expense in connection with the Library of Con- 
gress; the meteorological service transformed into a perma- 
nent weather bureau and transferred to the War Department ; 
the National Museum supported by direct appropriations, and 
the system of international exchanges in large part main- 
tained by government grants; while the resources of the In- 
stitution were left comparatively free, to be used for the 
increase and diffusion of knowledge for the benefit of the 
entire world. 

Concerning the details of his administrative work, more 
cannot be said than that in the routine of each day he em- 
ployed the same conscientious methods and the same powers 
of mind which he had been accustomed to use in his investi- 
gation of the laws of nature. But for the man, the devotion 
with which he worked, and the fact that his life was spared to 
labor for the Institution for nearly a third of a century, it is 

144 The Smithsonian Institution 

not impossible that the uncanny predictions of John Quincy 
Adams as to the fate of the Smithsonian bequest might have 
been fulfilled. 

It was much for the Institution to have secured as an or- 
ganizer a man of such commanding abilities, of such wide 
and lofty aims, and one whose character was noble beyond 
the possibility of any tarnish. It was much, on the other 
hand, for Henry to abandon the life of an investigator, at the 
very time when the promise of the future was so brilliant. 
He was fully conscious of his own great powers and that he 
was sacrificing, as he expressed it, "future fame to present 
reputation." He understood, however, the opportunities for 
good which the new position would afford, and, with a full 
appreciation of what he was doing, cheerfully sacrificed his 
own scientific career to what he knew would be for all time a 
powerful aid to the work of investigators without number. 
By this act he did much toward establishing the profession 
of scientific administration — a profession which in the com- 
plexity of modern civilization is becoming more and more es- 
sential to scientific progress. That he himself appreciated 
this fact is clearly shown in his loving eulogy of his friend 
Alexander Dallas Bache ; and yet it is not impossible that he 
was mistaken in supposing that this change of activities had 
lessened the chance of future fame. For so lono- as the 


Smithsonian Institution endures, the name of its first Sec- 
retary will be remembered with it. 


After his election to the Secretaryship, Professor Henry, 
although by a special resolution of the Board of Regents, 
January 26, 1847, "requested to continue his researches in 
physics, and to present such facts and principles as may be 

TJie Three Secretaries 145 

developed for publication in the ' Smithsonian Contributions,'" 
did not find it consistent with his duties, as he understood 
them, to take time necessary for any continuous laboratory 
work in connection with the labors of organizing and shap- 
ing the character of the new foundation. 

His annual reports, which were models of full and exact 
administrative treatment, were always written by himself, and 
abounded in critical and philosophical remarks bearing not 
only upon the work of the Institution, but also upon the sig- 
nificance of the work in which it was engaged, and its rela- 
tions to the scientific questions of the day. During the first 
ten years his papers were but few. At the meeting of the 
American Association in 1850, he remarked, at the conclusion 
of a brief conversation, that for the last three and a half 
years all his time and all his thought had been given to the 
details of the business of the Smithsonian Institution ; he had 
been obliged to withdraw himself entirely from scientific re- 
search ; but he hoped, now the Institution had been gotten 
under way, and the Regents had allowed him some able as- 
sistants, that he would be enabled, in part at least, to return 
to his first love — the investigation of the phenomena of 

His anticipations were not, however, to be realized in the 
manner hoped for. His subsequent work in science was for 
the most part that which grew out of his official connections, 
and his published papers such as embodied trains of thought 
suggested by the administrative work which he was directing. 
His studies upon direct and reflected sound grew out of 
his experiments to remedy the defects of a Smithsonian hall 
intended for public speaking. His generalizations in regard 
to the primary powers in connection with which he expressed 
his views on the correlation of physical and organic forces, 
were developed in an address upon "The Improvement of 

14^ The Smithsoniait Institution 

the Mechanical Arts,"deHvered at an exhibition of the Wash- 
ington Mechanics' Institute. His classical "Thoughts on 
Education " were delivered by him on the occasion of his re- 
tirement from the presidency of the Association for the Ad- 
vancement of Education. Out of the wealth of his obser- 
vations and reflections in connection with the Smithsonian 
meteorological work was developed his memoir upon "Meteor- 
ology in Connection with Agriculture," which was published 
in the reports of the Commissioner of Agriculture for five 
successive years, 1855 to 1859. This forms a volume of four 
hundred pages, by far the most extensive of his published 
writings, which is still a standard work of reference among 
students of this science. There was, indeed, no subject in 
which he took a keener interest than meteorology, and to his 
practical methods was due the daily weather map, essentially 
in its present form. How early this interest began is shown 
by the following extracts from his note-books, hitherto un- 

Under date of February 9, 1849, occurs the following 
entry : 

" I have had in my mind a fine scheme with the telegraph. 
Instantaneous observations, on the Aurora, on the thunder- 
storm, the beginning of storms, etc., etc." 

Also, under date of March 12, the following: 

" Mr. Redfield highly approves plan of using telegraph for 
meteorological purposes. The following places should be 
made stations: Portland, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, 
Baltimore, Washington, Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah, Mo- 
bile, Pensacola, Augusta, Nashville, New Orleans (northern 
and southern). 

"Galena, St. Louis, Chicago, Buffalo, Albany, Boston 

The Three Secretaries 147 

"Times — mornino-, noon, and night, or morning and night. 
Most important observations : i. Barometer. 2. Face of the 
sky. 3, Direction and force of the wind. The rise of the 
barometer will precede a fall." 

Under May 19, is the following entry : 

"Wrote to Judge McLean to give me an account of his 
obs. on thunderstorms. Thunder storms come from the 
west at Washington — on the opposite side of the river divide, 
one part down, the other to Baltimore. Prepare circulars 
relative to storms of this kind." 

The "Instructions for Meteorological Observers" were writ- 
ten by his own hand. The instruments for distribution were 
tested by him, and that magnificent corps of observers whose 
contributions, covering a period of thirty years, constitute 
a considerable portion of the foundation of meteorological 
science, was kept together by his personal labor in corre- 

His original study was not limited, however, to electricity 
or to physics. He entered every field into which human 
thought may enter. 

He was, perhaps, the first to work out a theory of the cor- 
relation of physical, chemical, and vital forces. This was in 
1844. His conclusions were essentially as follows: ^ 

"They who are disposed to continue the speculation . . . 
may extend the generalization so as to reduce all mechanical 
motion on the surface of the earth to a source from without. 
Thus . . . the mechanical power exerted by animals is due 
to the passage of organized matter in the body from an un- 
stable to a stable equilibrium [or, as it were,] (from the combus- 

"^ Proceedings of the American Philosophical page 215; The London, Edinburgh, and 
Society, 1844, Volume iv, page 127; Anier- DuUin Philosophical Magazine, 1845, Vol- 
ican Journal of Scietue, 1845, Volume XI.VIII, ume xxvi, page 541. 

148 The Smithsonian Institutioti 

tion of fuel).^ It would therefore appear to follow that animal 
power is referable to the same sources as that from the com- 
bustion of fuels [namely, the decomposing- energy of the sun's 
rays]. . . . Vitality is that mysterious principle which propa- 
gates a form and arranges the atoms of organizable matter, 
while the power with which it operates, is derived from the 
divellent power of the sunbeam." ^ 

Later, in 1857, his theory was more fully elaborated, and 
even then long antedated Doctor William B. Carpenter's bet- 
ter known essay, "On the Application of the Principle of the 
Conservation of Force to Physiology," 1884, in which much 
of the same ground was gone over as if for the first time, 
the author being evidently in ignorance of Henry's previous 
paper. Others had, however, been at work between 1844 
and 1857, and it was to this fact that Professor Lovering 
alluded when he said : 

" In this connection Henry's views on the correlation of 
the physical and organic forces may be recalled, which only 
lacked the fuller development and wider publication which he 
finally gave to them to have secured for him the first com- 
plete announcement of one of the grandest generalizations of 
modern science." ^ 

The latest and most comprehensive generalization in phy- 
sics — that which culminated in the researches of Hertz — 
seems also in a certain way to have been foreseen by Joseph 
Henry, much as those of Joule were foreseen by Lord Bacon 
and by Thompson. 

"Faraday's immortal researches, Clerk Maxwell's pro- 
phetic investigations, and Hertz's convincing experiments," 

1 This condensation is Henry's own, and is 2 «< Scientific Writings of Josepli Henry," 

contained in Professor Taylor's " Memorial Volume I, page 222. 
of Joseph Henry," page 273. 3 « Memorial of Joseph Henry," page 438. 

The Three Secretaries 149 

writes Preece, "have definitely and conclusively proved the 
existence of one medium throughout all space, called the 
ether, through which waves of energy, called radiations, are 
propagated with the same velocity, but in different forms and 
with different frequencies, although all of the same charac- 
ter. At one end of the scale we have actinic disturbances 
producing photographic impressions ; at the other end of the 
scale electric waves producing electro-magnetic disturbances, 
while the intermediate radiations give light and heat." ^ 

Compare now the summary of present opinions just quoted, 
omitting only the words within the brackets (which I have 
myself added), with what Henry wrote nearly half a century 
before : 

"We cannot avoid the conclusion [that] all the phenomena 
of the imponderables result from the different actions of one 
all-pervading principle. . . . An iron rod, rapidly hammered, 
becomes red hot, or, in other words, emits heat and light. 
The same rod, insulated by a non-conductor, exhibits electri- 
cal attraction and repulsion. Again, if this rod be struck with 
a hammer while in a vertical position, it becomes magnetic. 
We have here the evolution of the four classes of phenomena 
by a simple agitation of the atoms. We cannot, in accor- 
dance with the known simplicity of the operations of nature, 
for a moment imagine that these different results are to be 
referred to as many different and independent principles."^ 

So far as theory goes, it would seem that Clerk Maxwell's 
proposition in 1865, that light is an electro-magnetic distur- 
bance, was simply a variation of the previous proposition of 
Henry, and that Henry's utterance was an indication of the 
deep insight into the inevitable future course of experimental 
research in this direction. The facts brought out by Max- 

1 " Electric Signalling without Wires," '^ Proceedings of (he American Association 

Journal of t/ie Sociefy of Arts, Volume XLII, for the Advancement of Science, 1851, Vol- 
pages 274, 275, February 23, 1S94. ume VI, pages S4-91. 

150 The Smithsonian Institution 

well, taken in connection with the experiments of Hertz, have 
demonstrated that optics is a department of electricity. 

"To produce radiation," comments Barker, "it is necessary- 
only to produce electric oscillations of sufficiently short period. 
An atom of sodium vibrates five hundred million times in one 
millionth of a second. Could we produce electric atomic 
oscillations at this rate and permanently maintain them we 
could produce light. The problem of the age is, how to con- 
vert some other form of energy into the energy of light. 
That this is possible in theory, Rayleigh long ago showed. 
That it is actually accomplished in nature, Langley's remark- 
able measurements upon the glow-worm abundantly confirm."^ 

Another evidence of the penetration, as well as the inde- 
pendence of his thought is shown by the fact that he was 
among the earliest of American men of science to approve 
the theory of evolution, as announced by Darwin. In 1864 
he wrote to Asa Gray, who soon after the publication of the 
" Origin of the Species" had become one of the warmest and 
most influential of its authorized champions, in these words: 

"I have given the subject of evolution much thought, and 
have come to the conclusion that it is the best working hy- 
pothesis which you naturalists have .got. It, in fact, gives 
you the first basis or real scientific foundation to stand upon 
which you have ever had." 

Doctor Gray was at that time in the midst of a vigorous 
controversy upon this subject with many of the principal 
American naturalists, the most uncompromising of whom was 
Agassiz. Although Henry's views were not made public, it 
was generally understood that he sympathized with Darwin 
and Gray. Agassiz, at that time a Regent of the Institution, 
earnestly remonstrated with him and urged that he should 

1 Barker, George F., " Physics," New York, 1892, page 873. 

The Three Secretaries 151 

take no stand for or against the theory; and his remon- 
strances were supported by those of a number of his friends 
in Washington, members of the church which he was accus- 
tomed to attend, who were greatly disturbed that he should 
entertain opinions which seemed so heterodox and dangerous. 
His attitude was never shaken, however, although he never 
felt called upon to express his views publicly. " I am a physi- 
cist, and not a naturalist," said he, "and it is not proper for 
me to participate in this discussion ; but if there is any science 
in natural history, this is the first step which has ever been 
taken to demonstrate it." 

Much of his most careful work was in connection with eco- 
nomic problems submitted to him individually, or as a member 
of various commissions, by the government of the United 
States. In 1851 he was actively concerned in the modes of 
testing building materials, in connection with the examination 
of marble for the extension of the United States Capitol. In 
1855 he used the great tower of the Institution building for 
experiments to test a new process for procuring alcohol, for 
which a patent had been granted. 

In 1852, when the Lighthouse Board of the United States 
was organized. President Fillmore appointed him one of its 
members ; and on this Board he served until his death, and 
from 1 87 1 to 1877 was its chairman. He thus had opportunity 
to make his famous researches on sound in relation to foe- 
signaling, in connection with which grew up his discussion of 
the subject with Professor Tyndall, These researches were 
of the highest scientific value, and at the same time led to 
immediate practical results of the greatest importance. He 
also conducted the experiments on illuminants which resulted 
in a complete revolution in the methods of lighthouses, re- 
placing sperm-oil by lard-oil in 1866, which substitution, com- 
petent authorities estimated in 1877, ^"'^^ already saved to the 

152 The Smithsonian Institution 

government not less than one million dollars. To these ex- 
periments he gave much attention, devoting to them the time 
of his summer holiday for many years. It is generally con- 
ceded that the high efficiency of our national lighthouse system 
is largely due to his labors. 

During the Civil War he was, together with Professor 
Bache and Admiral Davis, the member of a commission to 
examine and report upon various investigations and experi- 
ments intended to facilitate the operations of war and to im- 
prove the art of navigation. Many of the experiments were 
conducted at the Institution. From the top of the great 
tower, night after night, lights were flashed to distant stations, 
in connection with tests of methods of signaling; and many a 
time Professor Henry's companion in these studies was Presi- 
dent Lincoln, glad to leave the scene of turmoil in which his 
days were passed and to seek rest and inspiration in the quiet 
companionship of such a man as Henry. 

Out of the labors of this commission grew the National 
Academy of Sciences, established in 1863 by act of Congress, 
to advance science and to report upon such questions of sci- 
entific character as might be connected with the operations 
of the government. Bache was its first president, and Henry 
succeeded him, holding that place until his death. 


It has already been shown that his original investigations 
during his thirty years at the Smithsonian Institution were 
not of great extent ; but his influence, not only upon the de- 
velopment of scientific work in the United States, but upon 
its character, cannot be overestimated. His official position 
brought him into constant contact, either personally or by 
letter, with all in the United States who were engaged in 

The Three Secretaries 153 

scientific work, and the inspiration and the direct control which 
he exercised were constant and far-reaching. The cordial 
hospitality of his home in Washington was never forgotten 
by any to whom it was given, and all who came to it received 
a hearty welcome. He lived, from 1855 until his death, in 
the east wins;- of the Smithsonian buildinor. His wife, whom as 
Miss Harriet L. Alexander he married in 1830, and his three 
daughters, aided him to make it one of the centers in the 
intellectual life of Washington, and there were few distin- 
guished visitors to the city who did not enter his doors. 

Many remember his presence at the meetings of the Amer- 
ican Association for the Advancement of Science, and the 
impression made by his brief addresses, often simply a few 
words of greeting, not even reported in the proceedings. In 
his later years, in 1871, the Philosophical Society of Washing- 
ton was organized, and he was its president as long as he 
lived. The meetings, occurring every two weeks through the 
winter, were events in Washington, and were attended not 
only by students of science, but by many of the greatest 
of our public men, while visiting men of science who made 
communications were not few. Here, for the first time, was 
announced the discovery of the telephone. The discussions 
were often remarkable for their brilliancy and weight, and the 
society in those days, unaffected by the withdrawal of special- 
ists to form organizations devoted to particular branches, was 
a very remarkable one. The spirit of Henry dominated the 
whole, and his stately presence as he presided and his im- 
pressive remarks when, as not infrequently happened, he par- 
ticipated in the discussions, made every meeting memorable. 
His address on the organization of a scientific society, at the 
time of its foundation, presents the highest ideal of what a 
local scientific society should be. And the height of his 
ideals for science and for men of science is shown by his 

154 The SiuitJisouian Institution 

closing address to the National Academy of Sciences, a few 
days before his death : 

"Whatever might have been thought as to the success of 
the Academy, when first proposed by the late Professor Louis 
Agassiz, the present meeting conclusively proves that it has 
become a power of great efficiency in the promotion of sci- 
ence in this country. To sustain this effect however much 
caution is required to maintain the purity of its character and 
the propriety of its decisions. 

" For this purpose great care must be exercised in the 
selection of its members. It must not be forgotten for a 
moment that the basis of selection is actual scientific labor in 
the way of original research, (that is in making positive addi- 
tions to the sum of human knowledge,) connected with unim- 
peachable moral character. 

"It is not social position, popularity, extended authorship, 
or success as an instructor in science, which entitles to mem- 
bership, but actual new discoveries ; nor are these sufficient 
if the reputation of the candidate is in the slightest degree 
tainted with injustice or want of truth. Indeed, I think that 
immorality and great mental power actually exercised in the 
discovery of scientific truths are incompatible with each other, 
and that more error is introduced from defect in moral sense 
than from want of intellectual capacity." 

A few clays before his death, unable to pursue his custom- 
ary routine of work, his mind became more than usually con- 
cerned upon the mystery of existence and the meaning of 
human life ; and at this time, without the knowledge of his 
family, he wrote to his friend Mr. Patterson a letter, in which 
he recorded the results of his lifelong thoughts upon this 
subject : 

"After all our speculations," he wrote, "an attempt to 
grapple with the problem of the universe, the simplest con- 
ception which explains and connects the phenomena is that 

The Three Secretaries 155 

of the existence of one Spiritual Being — infinite in wisdom, 
in power, and all divine perfections, which exists always and 
everywhere — which has created us with intellectual faculties 
sufficient, in some degree, to comprehend His operations as 
they are developed in Nature by what is called ' Science.' 

"This Being is unchangeable, and, therefore, His operations 
are always in accordance with the same laws, the conditions 
being the same. Events that happened a thousand years 
ago will happen again a thousand years to come, provided 
the condition of existence is the same. Indeed, a universe 
not governed by law would be a universe without the evidence 
of an intellectual director. 

" In the scientific explanation of physical phenomena, we 
assume the existence of a principle having properties suffi- 
cient to produce the effects which we observe ; and when the 
principle so assumed explains, by logical deductions from it, 
all the phenomena, we call it a theory. Thus, we have the 
theory of light, the theory of electricity, etc. There is no 
proof, however, of the truth of these theories, except the 
explanation of the phenomena which they are invented to 
account for. 

" This proof, however, is sufficient in any case in which 
every fact is fully explained, and can be predicted when the 
conditions are known. In accordance with this scientific 
view, on what evidence does the existence of a Creator rest ? 

'' Fn'st. It is one of the truths best established by experi- 
ence in my own mind, that I have a thinking, willing /'r/;^- 
ciple within me, capable of intellectual activity and of moral 

" Second. It is equally clear to me that you have a similar 
spiritual principle within yourself, since when I ask you an 
intelligent question you give me an intellectual answer. 

" Third. When I examine the operations of Nature, I 
find everywhere through them evidences of intellectual ar- 
rangement, of contrivances to reach definite ends, precisely 
as I find in the operations of man ; and hence I infer that 
these two classes of operations are results of similar intelli- 

156 The Sjuithsonian Institution 

"Again, in my own mind, I find ideas of right and wrong, 
of good and evil. These ideas, then, exist in the universe, 
and, therefore, form a basis of our ideas of a moral universe. 
Furthermore, the conceptions of good which are found among 
our ideas associated with evil, can be attributed only to a 
Being of infinite perfections, like that which we denominate 
* God.' On the other hand, we are conscious of having such 
evil thoughts and tendencies that we cannot associate our- 
selves with a Divine Being, who is the Director and Governor 
of all, or even call upon Him for mercy, without the interces- 
sion of One who may affiliate himself with us." 

Notwithstanding his sacrifice of investigation to adminis- 
tration, there is no greater name in American science. What 
Franklin was to the last century, Henry is to this, and as the 
years go by his fame is growing brighter. The memorial 
service in his honor, held in 1878, in the hall of the United 
States House of Representatives, was a national event. In 
1883 his monument in bronze, by the greatest of American 
sculptors, was erected by Congress in the Smithsonian Park. 
The bestowal of his name upon the unit of induction in 1893 
was an indication of his foreign appreciation, while, as a still 
nobler tribute to his fame, his statue has been placed under 
the great rotunda of the National Library, the science of the 
world and of all time being symbolized by these two great 
men, Newton and Henry. 

The Three Secretaries 157 



NO name occupies a more honorable place in the annals 
of American science than that of Professor Baird, His 
personal contributions to systematic biology were of great 
extent. His influence in inspiring and training men to enter 
the field of natural history was very potent. As an organ- 
izer, working at a most fortunate time, he knew how to 
utilize his extraordinary opportunities, and he has left his im- 
press forever fixed upon the scientific and educational institu- 
tions of the United States, more especially upon those under 
government control. 

He was one of those rare men, perhaps more frequently 
met with in the New World than elsewhere, who give the 
impression of being able to succeed in whatever they under- 
take. Although he chose to be a naturalist, and of necessity 
became an administrator, no one who knew him could doubt 
that he would have been equally eminent as a lawyer, physi- 
cian, mechanic, historian, business man, soldier, or statesman. 


It is always interesting to search for the sources of intellec- 
tual force and capacity, especially so in this country, where 
the races of the Old World have mingled with such rapidity 
and in such volume as to develop very remarkable phases in 
the problem of heredity. 

For an inquiry of this kind there is excellent material in 
the case of Professor Baird, for though he gave little atten- 

158 The Smithsonian Institution 

tion to such matters in his later busy life, there is still in ex- 
istence an elaborate "genealogical tree," prepared by himself 
at the age of sixteen, by the aid of which it has been practi- 
cable to identify his ancestors up to and including all those of 
the fifth degree, thirty in number, and in many lines far beyond. 

His grandparents were all the children of colonial Pennsyl- 
vanians. He was emphatically an American, for over eighty 
per centum of his progenitors in the sixth degree were living 
in the colonies during the seventeenth century. Out of the 
total number of thirty-two, one, or perhaps two, were of 
Swedish blood; one a Huguenot, and one or two others from 
the Palatinate — companions of Pastorius in the founding of 
the first German community in America. The others were 
either natives of Great Britain or their descendants estab- 
lished in the American colonies. Of these there were several 
of Scotch, Irish, or Scotch-Irish blood, and one or two from 

Although in one sense only agencies in the concentration 
and transmission of the various traits derived from previous 
generations, his immediate ancestors — with their personal 
traits, the results of education and environment — were those 
who had the most direct influence upon his character. 

His father, Samuel Baird (i 786-1833), was a lawyer, a 
man of fine culture, an independent and original thinker, and 
a lover of nature and of outdoor sports. 

His mother, Lydia McFunn Biddle (i 797-1861), who sur- 
vived her husband nearly forty years, was a woman of fine 
executive powers, fascinating manners, and of a sunny and 
equable temperament. 

His father's father, Samuel Baird, served as a quartermas- 
ter in the Revolutionary Army ; he was a surveyor, and was 
interested in the opening of coal-mines in eastern Pennsyl- 
vania, in association with his cousin, Colonel Thomas Potts, 




158 "" ■' Hon 

uusy life, there is still in ex- 
)gical tree," prepared by himself 
aid of which it has 
ors no to r^nd including all those of 

^^- lines fell .^v,_)«^.id. 

ig tin ^enth centurv, 

.otal number of thirty -two, one, or p*^-' '' 

"dish blood ^^ not, and or 

is in the fo 

ic or two 

les in the con 

. from nre\ 

^ ancestors — wx-u lin^i perse """ 
t education and en 

' influence upon his charr 

6-1833), was a la^ 

. -id origii.„- ^-- 

... - >orts. 


■ , ; -".S 

.' ennsyl- 


.V881 -8TttI 

The Three Secretaries i59 

who was the first to discover the valuable properties of an- 
thracite coal, and who interested Franklin and Rittenhouse 
in devising methods for its use as a fuel. Samuel Baird's 
father, Thomas Baird, was of Scotch- Irish origin ; he came 
to the colony before the middle of the century, and following 
the current of westward travel, settled as a frontiersman in 
the beautiful Cumberland Valley, near the present site of 
Chambersburg, the westernmost of the Pennsylvania settle- 
ments, and at the very verge of civilization. His wife, Mary 
Douglass, was of the same race. At the close of the Revolu- 
tion, her husband having died, she, with all her children but 
the eldest son, joined the train of emigrants which for a quar- 
ter of a century she had seen wending westward past her 
door, and removed to the new territory of Kentucky, and 
later to Fort Vincennes, Indiana, where she was still living 
in 1785. 

His father's mother, Rebecca Potts (i 753-1830), was the 
daughter of Thomas Potts (1721-62), of Colebrookdale, and 
eranddauofhter of Thomas Potts, who came from Wales to 
Germantown early in the eighteenth century, and was a 
pioneer in the development of the American iron industry. 
His descendants owned the region in which the Continental 
Army was encamped in 1778. The Valley Forge belonged 
to Colonel Dewees, the husband of Rebecca Potts' sister, in 
whose house she was living at that time, while Washington 
occupied the home of her uncle on the other side of Valley 
Creek. During that long winter Mrs. Washington taught 
her how to net, and gave her a silver netting-needle, still 
treasured by the family. Her mother was the daughter of 
William Pyewell (1685-1769), of Philadelphia, one of the 
earliest wardens of Christ Church, and her grandmothers 
were Magdelen Robeson, descended from Swedish colonists 
on the Delaware, and Mary Rutter. of Huguenot origin. 

i6o The Smithsonian Institution 

Professor Baird's mother's father, William McFunn Biddle, 
was the son of William McFunn, an officer of the British 
Navy, who was present with the fleet at the siege of Quebec, 
and while stationed on the Delaware was married, in 1752, to 
Lydia Biddle. Ordered to duty at Antigua, he contracted a 
disease which caused his death, at Philadelphia, in i 768. In 
that most interesting volume, the " Autobiography of Charles 
Biddle," are occasional references to Captain McFunn, who 
was evidently a bluff and hardy English seaman of the old 
heroic type. His son, William Biddle McFunn, became, by 
transposition of his two last names, William McFunn Biddle. 
He was a banker, an accomplished musician, and the friend 
of Robert Morris, and became involved in some of the ambi- 
tious projects which "the financier of the Revolution" or- 
ganized in the early days of the Republic — especially the 
American Land Company. At one time the richest young 
man in Philadelphia, he went with Morris to a debtor's cell, 
where he remained until relieved by the passage of the first 
United States bankrupt law, in 1800. His mother, Lydia 
Biddle, belonged to an old Philadelphia family, for many gen- 
erations prominent in commercial and banking enterprises 
and as officers in the Army and Navy, the descendants of 
William Biddle, one of the first Quaker colonists of Penn- 
sylvania. She was descended maternally from Nicholas 
Scull, the friend of Franklin, one of the earliest members of 
the American Philosophical Society, and the first surveyor- 
general of Pennsylvania. 

His mother's mother, Lydia Spencer Biddle, survived her 
husband for half a century, and died in 1858 at the age of 
ninety-three. Her memories of the Revolution were vivid, 
for her father was the patriot preacher Elihu Spencer, who 
had been a chaplain in the French and Indian Wars, and was 
despatched by Congress to North Carolina to aid in winning 

The Three Secretaries i6i 

over the Scotch colonists, who were slow to abandon their 
allegiance to the British Crown — a man whose eloquence 
rendered him so conspicuous that a reward was offered for 
his head. Her sister's husband, Jonathan Dickinson Ser- 
geant, was a member of the Continental Congress. As a 
young lady at Trenton she talked with General Mercer just 
before he marched to his death at Princeton, and on Christ- 
mas night in 1776 saw Washington depart for the crossing 
of the Delaware. Her father was the brother of General 
Joseph Spencer of the Revolution, second cousin to Timothy 
Edwards, the great New England theologian, and own cousin 
to John and Edward Brainerd, missionaries to the Indians; 
she was aunt to John and Thomas Sergeant, of Philadelphia, 
eminent lawyers, the former a candidate for Vice-President 
with Clay in 1832, the latter judge of the Supreme Court of 
Pennsylvania. Through her mother, Joanna Eaton, she was 
descended from Thomas Eaton, one of the earliest American 
Quakers, who came to Rhode Island in 1761, and also from 
Thomas Wardell and Isaac Perkins, first-comers to Massa- 
chusetts Bay (1630-35), who, as disciples of Anne Hutchin- 
son in the Antinomian controversy, were banished from the 
colony as heretics, and went with the Reverend John Wheel- 
wright beyond the limits of the colony into the forests of 
New Hampshire. Among her nearest of kin, the children 
and grandchildren of her aunts, were all the LeContes, emi- 
nent in science as zoologists, geologists, and chemists ; John 
McPherson Berrien, of Georgia, the "American Cicero," 
early Attorney-General of the United States and Regent of 
the Smithsonian Institution; as well as Admiral Montgomery 
and Commodore Berrien, of the United States Navy. 

These were all representative men and women, leaders in 
the communities in which they lived, a group even more re- 
markable for their abilities than for their diversity in origin 

1 62 The Sniithsoniaji Institution 

and character. Many of them were Quakers, but there were 
also Churchmen, Lutherans, and Presbyterians. Among them 
were soldiers, sailors, clergymen, lawyers, financiers, survey- 
ors, miners, farmers, mechanics, military officers, British and 
American ; patriots and loyalists, Whigs and Tories, Feder- 
alists and Republicans. With such ancestral resources to 
draw upon, it is not strange that Professor Baird should have 
been a man of varied and commanding abilities. His admin- 
istrative capacity, his power of directing and controlling men, 
and his personal charm of manner, came to him perhaps 
chiefly from his mother; while to his father's family he owed 
his love of outdoor life, his taste for the study of nature, and 
his magnificent physique, a heritage from generations of pio- 
neers and frontiersmen. Those who knew him best may be 
disposed to attribute to his Quaker ancestry his quiet and 
unassuming manner, his dislike for publicity, and his prefer- 
ence for a simple garb of gray. 


Spencer Fullerton Baird was born February 23, 1823, in 
Reading, Pennsylvania. His father died when he was ten 
years old, and his mother soon removed with her family to 
Carlisle, a village in the beautiful Cumberland Valley, which 
was the seat of Dickinson College and of a government 
military post, and the home of many people of culture and 

When he was eleven he was sent to a Friends' boarding- 
school, kept by Doctor McGravv, in Port Deposit, Maryland ; 
a year later entered the grammar school in Carlisle, and in 
1836 Dickinson College, from vvliich he was graduated in 
1840, at the age of seventeen. 

His interest in collecting and classifying facts and in ob- 

The Three Secretaries 163 

serving nature began when he was still a boy. His early 
note-books contain systematic lists of various kinds. He 
gathered specimens of the wood and leaves of plants, and at 
the age of fourteen joined his elder brother William, who had 
similar tastes, in making a collection of the game-birds of 
Cumberland County. Specimens prepared by these boys 
sixty years ago are still preserved in the National Museum. 

After leaving college, since he was too young to enter any 
profession, he was allowed to follow his own tastes for a time, 
and his inclination for science developed in such a remarkable 
manner that his mother felt that she was justified in allowing 
him to devote himself for several years to his favorite pur- 
suits. There were at that time no schools for young natural- 
ists, and his education was in a large degree self-directed. 
He began to read medicine, attended a course of lectures at 
the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York in the 
winter of 1841-42, and made excursions, often on foot, in 
search of specimens and to visit collections. He made long 
visits to friends in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, 
and thus saw the museums and important private collections 
and became familiar with what were at that time the principal 
centers of learning. In those days were formed many of the 
friendships and scientific partnerships which influenced his 
after life. 

Among his early companions and correspondents were 
George N. Lawrence (1841), Charles Pickering and John 
Torrey (1842), John Cassin and James D. Dana (1843), 
Thomas M. Brewer, Stephen S. Haldeman, Joseph Leidy, and 
Frederick E. Melsheimer (1844), John G. Morris (1845), 
Jared P. Kirtland (1847), and Philo R. Hoy and John S. 
Newberry (1850). 

Still earlier was his friendship with Audubon, with whom 
he began a correspondence in 1838, and from whom he re- 

164 The Smifhso7uan Institution 

ceived instruction in making drawings of birds ; and it was 
to him, and perhaps still more to his own kinsman, Major 
John LeConte, one of the early Southern naturalists, that was 
due his determination to devote his life to natural history. 

In 1843 he translated Ehrenberg's work on the corals of 
the Red Sea for Dana, who was then engaged upon his re- 
port for the Wilkes exploring expedition. In 1846 he ap- 
pears to have been occupied in the preparation of a synonymy 
of North American birds, and to have visited Boston to con- 
sult in the libraries of Amos Binney and the Boston Society 
of Natural History certain books not to be found in Phila- 
delphia. That he was already at that time a trained student 
is shown by the fact that the material then gathered was 
utilized by him twelve years later in his " Birds of North 

During all this time he was engaged in organizing a 
private cabinet of natural history, taking long excursions 
through the mountains of Pennsylvania; in making dissec- 
tions and preparing slides for the microscope ; and in pre- 
serving specimens, most of which are still in existence and 
available for scientific study in the National Museum. 

In 1841 he walked 420 miles in twenty-one days; on the 
last day 60 miles between daylight and rest. In 1842 he 
walked more than 2100 miles. In the course of these excur- 
sions he visited Audubon, Haldeman, Melsheimer, and Morris, 
in order to examine their collections. His fine physique and 
capacity for work in after days were perhaps due in part to 
these years of outdoor life. 

I find in his note-book a memorandum that on his birthday 
in 1840, at the age of seventeen, his height was five feet ten 
and a quarter inches; a year later he measured five feet 
eleven and three quarters inches, and weighed one hundred 
and fifty pounds. During his long walk in the following fall 

The Three Secretaries 165 

he made some curious experiments upon himself. At night, 
after carrying a load of forty pounds for ten miles, he mea- 
sured five feet eleven and a quarter inches, and the next 
morning six feet, showing that his height had been com- 
pressed by weight three quarters of an inch. 

His home studies were carried on for a number of years, 
and were scarcely interrupted by his election in 1846 to the 
chair of natural history and chemistry in Dickinson College. 
In this capacity he taught the seniors physiology ; the sopho- 
mores, geometry ; freshmen, zoology ; and the preparatory 
students, something else. He found time, however, to carry 
on the work begun in previous years and to make each sum- 
mer an extended collecting expedition: in 1847, ^^ ^^^ Adi- 
rondacks; in 1848, to Ohio, to collect, in company with Doctor 
Kirtland, from the original localities of the types, the species 
described by him in his work on the fishes of Ohio; in 1849, 
to the mountains of Virginia, with C. B. R. Kennedy; and in 
1850, to Lake Champlain and Lake Ontario. 

He remained in Carlisle until 1850, and there he married, 
in 1846, Mary Helen Churchill, the daughter of General Syl- 
vester Churchill, Inspector-General United States Army. He 
used to say that his wife won his heart as a girl by the beau- 
tiful labels she wrote for his collections, and she was always 
afterward his companion and assistant in his work. 

The coming of Agassiz to America in 1846 was an inspira- 
tion to the young naturalist. One of the first great works 
projected by the Swiss savant was a memoir upon the fresh- 
water fishes of North America, in the authorship of which 
Professor Baird was to be his associate — a work which was 
never completed. 

Agassiz did not establish himself in Cambridge until 1848, 
and to Baird should belong the credit of having introduced 
into American schools the system of laboratory practice and 

1 66 The Smithsoniaji htstitiition 

field exploration as an essential part of instruction in natural 
history. Doctor Moncure D. Conway, one of his pupils, has 
often spoken to me of his fascinating explanations of natural 
phenomena, and how the contagion of his enthusiasm spread 
among his pupils, who frequently followed him over the hills 
twenty or thirty miles a day. Once, while collecting insects In 
the field, they were surrounded and captured by a party of 
German farmers, who thought they were escaped lunatics 
and proposed to take them to an asylum. 


His mentor at this time was the Honorable George P. Marsh, 
of Vermont, who was always his friend and admirer, and to 
him Professor Baird always felt that he owed his real start in 
life. Mr. Marsh, feeling that his protege was disposed to 
bury himself in the technicalities of a specialty, insisted that 
he should undertake to translate and edit an edition of the 
** Iconographic Cyclopaedia," a version of Heck's " Bilder- 
Atlas," published in connection with the famous " Konversa- 
tions-Lexikon " of Brockhaus. This, his first extensive liter- 
ary task, though exceedingly laborious and confining to a 
man so young and entirely untrained in literary methods, 
was efficiently and rapidly performed. The result was a 
great expansion in his tastes and sympathies, while the train- 
ing and confidence which he acquired served as an excellent 
preparation for the tremendous literary tasks which he un- 
dertook without hesitation in later years. 

It was also to Mr. Marsh, who was one of the earliest 
Smithsonian Regents, that he owed his election as Assistant 
Secretary of the Institution, then recently organized. His 
selection, as is indicated by a statement in Professor Henry's 
fifth report, was due quite as much to his training in editorial 

The Three Secretaries 167 

methods as to his professional acquirements. His appoint- 
ment, as is there stated, was made at that time more particu- 
larly that he might have charge of the publications, and that 
the Institution might take advantage of the ample experience 
which he had gained in editorial work. 

He first met Henry, as his diary shows, on July 17, 1848, 
visited with him the building then being constructed, and 
undertook to collect natural history objects for the Smith- 

The Regents of the Institution did not, of course, appre- 
ciate the fact that he had originated, in connection with his 
work upon his own private collections, a system of museum 
administration which was to be of the utmost value in the 
management of the great National Museum, which developed 
so rapidly under his charge. 

All the efficient methods which are now in use in the Na- 
tional Museum were practised in the little museum which he 
had organized at home, and which he brought with him to 
form the nucleus of the Smithsonian collection. Among the 
treasures of his cabinet, which filled two large freight-cars, 
and which are still cherished by the Institution, were a num- 
ber of the choicest bird skins collected by Audubon, who en- 
tertained for him a sincere friendship from the time when he 
proposed to him, a boy of nineteen, that he accompany him 
on a voyage to the headwaters of the Missouri, and who 
sought him as partner in the preparation of the great work 
" Quadrupeds of North America." 

The position of Assistant Secretary was accepted Jul)- 5, 
1850, and on the third of October, at the age of twenty- 
seven years, he entered upon his life-work in connection with 
the Smithsonian Institution. 

1 68 The Smithsonian Institution 


It would be interesting to dwell upon the details of his 
work, but his life was so full of interests that it is only by- 
careful condensation that even an adequate outline of its 
eventful features can be presented in this volume. 

There were several distinct activities in his career, dis- 
tributed somewhat as follows: (i) a period of twenty-six 
years (1843-69) devoted to laborious investigation of the 
vertebrate fauna of North America; (2) forty years (1840-80) 
of continuous contribution to scientific literature, of which at 
least ten were devoted to scientific editorship ; (3) four years 
(1846-50) devoted to educational work; (4) forty-one years 
(1846-87) devoted to the encouragement and promotion of 
scientific enterprises, and the development of new workers 
among the young men with whom he was brought into con- 
tact ; (5) thirty-seven years (1850-87) devoted to adminis- 
trative work as an officer of the Smithsonian Institution and 
in charge of the scientific collections of the government — 
twenty-eight years (1850-78) its principal executive officer 
and nine years (1878-87) the Secretary and responsible 
head of the Institution; (6) sixteen years (i87i-'87) as head 
of the United States Fish Commission, a philanthropic labor 
for the increase of the food supply of the world, and inciden- 
tally for the promotion of the interests of biological and phys- 
ical investigation. 


The published list of his writings contains over one thousand 
titles. Although very many of these are brief notices and 
critical reviews, and a considerable number are reports and 
other official publications, there still remain two hundred 
which are formal contributions to scientific literature. 

The Three Secretaries 169 

His work in ornithology was, perhaps, the most extensive 
and that which contributed more than any other to his repu- 
tation ; for although he published only eighty papers, several 
of them were monographic, and so exhaustive and critical in 
their character that their publication was epoch-making. 

The first of his large works, the " Birds of North America," 
which constituted the ninth volume of the reports of the Pa- 
cific Railroad Survey, was published in 1858, a quarto work 
of more than one thousand pages, which for twenty years re- 
mained the principal authority. Indeed, this and his " Re- 
view " are still regarded by every American ornithologist as 
absolutely indispensable for constant reference. Coues has 
declared that with its publication began the "Bairdian Period " 
in American ornithology, a period covering almost thirty 
years and characterized by an activity without a parallel in 
the history of the science. " It represents the most impor- 
tant single step ever taken in the progress of American or- 
nithology in all that relates to the technicalities. The no- 
menclature is entirely remodeled from that of the immediately 
preceding Audubonian period, and for the first time brought 
abreast of the then existing aspect of the case. It was 
adopted by the Smithsonian Institution, and thousands of 
separately printed copies of the * List of Species ' were dis- 
tributed during succeeding years to institutions and individu- 
als ; the names came at once into almost universal employ, 
and so continued, with scarcely appreciably diminished force, 
until about 1872." 

** The appearance of so great a work, from the hands of a 
most methodical, learned, and sagacious naturalist, aided by 
two of the leading ornithologists of America [John Cassin 
and George N. Lawrence], exerted an influence perhaps 
stronger and more widely felt than that of any of its prede- 
cessors, Audubon's and Wilson's not excepted, and marked 


170 The Smithsonian Institution 

an epoch in the history of American ornithology. The syn- 
onymy and specific characters, original in this work, have 
been used again and again by subsequent writers, with vari- 
ous modification and abridgment, and are in fact a large basis 
of the technical portion of the subsequent ' History of North 
American Birds ' by Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway. Such a 
monument of original research is likely to remain for an in- 
definite period a source of inspiration to lesser writers, while 
its authority as a work of reference will always endure." 

In pursuance of the same thought, Coues, Stejneger, Dall, 
and Ridgway have united in the characterization of what they 
call the " Bairdian School of Ornithologists"; a school char- 
acterized by exactitude in matters of fact, conciseness in de- 
ductive statement, and careful analysis of the subject in all its 
various bearings ; a school whose work is marked by a care- 
ful separation of the data from the conclusions derived from 
them, so that the conclusions or arguments can be traced 
back to their sources and duly weighed. 

As Doctor Stejneger has shown, the writings of the older 
European naturalists afford little basis for analysis, and the 
investigator has no recourse but to accept an author's state- 
ments and conclusions on his own responsibility. 

It is scarcely probable that any American naturalist would 
have ventured to claim for a fellow-countryman so radical an 
advance in scientific method, but I am not aware that the 
generalization of Stejneger has met with any opposition 
abroad. Indeed, during the twelve years which have passed 
since Stejneger's characterization of the Bairdian School, its 
methods have been generally adopted among advanced work- 
ers on the other side of the Atlantic. 

The development of this school was due not alone to the 
publication of the " Birds of North America," but still more to 
the direct influence of its author, exerted by personal inter- 

The Three Secretaries 171 

course and by correspondence upon a large number of Amer- 
ican naturalists and collectors, and it is due in part to his 
influence that ornithology is to-day being pursued in this 
country by a larger number of competent and well-equipped 
naturalists than any other branch of natural history. 

The publication of the "Review of American Birds" was 
begun in 1864, but ne«ver completed, having ceased with the 
issue of the first volume. This has been described by com- 
petent authorities as a work of unequaled merit, displaying 
in their perfection the author's wonderful powers of analysis 
and synthesis — a work which has received unstinted praise 
from all competent to estimate it, and one which has made a 
more profound impression on foreign ornithologists than any 
other single work on American birds. 

There were numerous minor contributions to ornithology, 
but no other great one from his unaided pen. The monu- 
mental " History of North American Birds," in five volumes, 
by Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway, presented fully the results 
of the labors of the Bairdian School up to 1874; and his 
favorite pupil and assistant, Mr. Ridgway, is now engaged 
upon a most important systematic treatise, which, as a sum- 
mary of all that is known of the morphology and classifica- 
tion of the birds of north and middle America, will, when it 
is published, repeat in its effect the volume of 1858. 

In his early years he published many minor papers upon 
the mammals of the West, and in 1857 appeared the eighth 
volume of the Pacific Railroad Survey Reports, which was 
devoted almost entirely to the mammals of North America. 
Nearly forty years have elapsed, and still no general work 
has been published to take its place. Everything which has 
been said in previous pages about his " Birds of North Amer- 
ica," published in the same series in the following year, 
applies with equal or greater force to his work upon the 

172 The Smithsonian Institution 

mammals. The greatest of living American mammalogists 
said to the writer not long ago, that in his work to-day, when 
he had a description by Baird before him, he did not deem 
it essential to examine the specimen to which it related ; 
something, he added, which he could not say about any other 

In the field of herpetology Professor Baird was still more 
of a pioneer, and, with the exception of Cope, to whom he 
resigned the field in 1859, as his chosen successor, his formal 
memoirs in this department were more extensive than those 
of any other. In his day material did not exist for a compre- 
hensive work covering the entire continent, but in his elab- 
orate reports upon the collections of the transcontinental sur- 
veys, and in his catalogue of North American Serpents in 
the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as in 
his scattered papers, he very nearly covered the same field 
which was occupied by his two great volumes on birds and 

Nearly two hundred new species and numerous new genera 
of reptiles were discovered and named by him, either under 
his own name or in association with his assistant, Charles 
Girard. To illustrate the fundamental character of this work, 
it may be said that when the great collection of snakes, con- 
taining several thousand specimens, was taken up for study, 
each specimen was individualized by attaching a number tag, 
which served as a key to its locality. They were all then 
thrown into one great pile, and by a process of compari- 
son with absolute disregard for what had previously been 
written, assorted, first into families, then into genera, and then 

1 To illustrate his methods of work and writing July, 1858, and printing October, 

the facility which he acquired with practice, 1858; having in the last instance written 

it may be stated that he began the mammal about two thousand quarto pages of original 

volume in Elizabethtown, New York, August, matter of the most technical character within 

1853, and finished printing July, 1857; he a period of eleven months, and put it through 

began the bird book in August, 1857, finished the press in the three which followed. 

The Three Secretaries 173 

into species and varieties. After this had been done, de- 
scriptions and analytical keys were prepared and provisional 
names were given to each. Last of all, the books were con- 
sulted in order to determine which of them had already been 
described and provided with names. Never in the history of 
zoology has a continent been classified in a manner so free 
from complications of previous discussion. 

He published little on the morphology and classification of 
fishes. A few papers, in association with Girard, upon new 
forms found in the fresh-waters of the Southwest, and a 
report upon the fishes observed upon the coast of New Jersey 
and Long Island during the summer of 1854, were early and 
useful pieces of work, though not especially significant. 

After he became Commissioner of Fisheries his time was 
so occupied that he was obliged to carry on his studies 
through the agency of others. In his first annual report, 
however, — that for 1871, — he discussed the life-histories of 
two important economic species, the bluefish and the scup- 
paug. These were the beginning of a new method in ich- 
thyological work, and served as a model and guide for all the 
more recent American students. These essays were life-his- 
tories of the most comprehensive type. In them he discussed 
geographical range, migrations, movements, habits of life, 
phenomena of reproduction and growth, questions of food, 
enemies, temperature, and all the manifold relationships of 
each form to its environment. Then followed a discussion of 
the relation of these fishes to man, the relative destructive- 
ness of different methods of capture, and the effects of these 
methods in the past. The evidence in regard to the diminu- 
tion of numbers was critically examined, and the statistics for 
the region, with which he was familiar, were treated in an ex- 
haustive manner. A life-history equal to that of the bluefish. 
then printed, has never been \vritten by any other naturalist. 

174 The Smithsonian Institution 

It was his intention to have continued this series of papers, 
and had the scope of the Fish Commission not been subse- 
quently expanded so as to include artificial culture, he would 
probably have been able to do this for all the fishes of the 
Atlantic coast. His material in resfard to the herrino- and 
menhaden was particularly abundant and important. 

After six years of waiting, however, he decided that it was 
impossible for him to give his personal attention to work of 
this kind, and in 1877 he proposed to me to take up the 
work, at the same time handing over a great mass of classi- 
fied material — his own observations supplemented by letters 
and extracts relating to all the economic fishes of the United 
States. This was the foundation of the somewhat voluminous 
publication entitled "The Fishery Industries of the United 
States," which was published under his direction by the writer 
and a staff of associates. 

Although he had abandoned this portion of the work, he 
by no means lost interest in it, but had in preparation at the 
time of his death a paper which, had he completed it, would 
have been one of the most important contributions to the lit- 
erature of the fishes ever issued, dealing as it did in the 
broadest and most philosophical manner with the principles 
underlying the whole subject of fishery economy. 

He attempted in later years no personal work upon the 
fishes, but he saw every specimen obtained by the Commis- 
sion and inspected every collection, as soon as it was re- 
ceived, with eager enthusiasm. He was often the first to 
detect undescribed or novel forms, and knew more about 
them all than the men whom he designated to write accounts 
of them. 

It was so also with the invertebrates, especially in the early 
years, before the extension of the investigation into the deep 
sea brought in such an overwhelming wealth of new material. 

The Three Secretaries 175 

It was so in the Museum in every department, and each of 
his associates knew that he was many times competent to do 
the work which he had made over to others. 

Particularly keen was his insight into North American 
archaeology. The great collection of the Smithsonian Insti- 
tution grew up under his hands, and up to the time of his 
death every single object was handled by him as soon as it 
was received. No one was so quick to perceive a new fact 
or so keen in the detection of a fraud, and although he never 
published a formal contribution to archaeology, there was in 
his day no archaeologist in America who was so learned. 
He was, indeed, an "all round " naturalist — one of the last of 
a school which has now almost ceased to exist. 

But that he, like Professor Henry, was willing to give up 
the pleasure of doing things himself, in order that he might 
provide the means by which hundreds of others might be 
enabled to work, the sum total of his contributions to science 
would have been much greater. 

It was his self-chosen task to amass material for research, 
to secure the money for the prosecution of studies upon it, to 
select the men, to train them and point out to them the 
results to be accomplished, to watch their progress, and, when 
satisfied that an adequate result had been reached, to secure 
its publication. Like most men of active mind, he delighted 
to enter unfamiliar regions, to become thoroughly familiar 
with all that was known, and to begin some research in each 
field in order to satisfy himself of his competency to enter it 
if he chose. This having been done, he was quite willing to 
hand over his accumulations of notes and material to some 
one else, and to this trait of his character many naturalists 
since prominent have owed their first establishment in the 
fields of research which they have since occupied. 

Reference has been made to the characteristics of the 

176 The Smithsonian Instihttion 

Bairdian Period and School of Ornithology, which have been 
recognized. No one has proposed similar periods and schools 
in other departments of zoology, but in mammals particularly 
there is even more justification for the use of these terms, for 
his influence is here even more dominant to the present day. 
Indeed, these terms might well be extended to cover the en- 
tire field of systematic zoology in North America, in which he 
has been even more prominent than was his contemporary 
Agassiz in the related field of animal morphology. 


The most judicious estimate of the biological work of Baird 
is, perhaps, that presented by Doctor Billings in his memoir 
read before the National Academy in 1889. 

Doctor Billings points out that his writings contain not 
merely descriptions of a large number of new species, but a 
general revision of the classification and nomenclature, and 
that the principles upon which these were founded have for 
the most part stood the test of time, showing the keenness of 
his insight into what may be called "fundamental morphol- 
ogy." His larger works are still standards of reference, and 
the additions which have been made to them are mainly the 
work of his own pupils or of those who have been trained in 
his methods. His work was necessarily confined to descrip- 
tive morphology, systemizatlon, and nomenclature, but his 
early training as a field naturalist entirely removed him from 
the category of mere species describers. His determinations 
were founded mainly on bones and skins, which formed the 
bulk of the material available at the time. 

"It is not," continues Doctor Billings, "an easy matter to 
estimate fairly the importance of this kind of work and the 
influence which it has on scientific progress and general cul- 

The Three Secretaries 177 

ture, and it is very likely to be either under- or over-valued by 
those who are not familiar with the study of living organisms. 
Classification, description, and naming of the different forms 
are the essential foundations of scientific biology, for until this 
has been done identification of particular forms is either diffi- 
cult or impossible, cooperative work on the part of scattered 
students is greatly restricted, and broad generalizations can 
only be put in the form of theories and conjectures. Such 
work as was done by Professor Baird in this direction gives a 
starting point to many observers and investigators in different 
localities, stimulates farther inquiry, and, when done on the 
extensive scale on which he did it, based on the examination 
and comparison of a large number of specimens from widely 
different localities, exercises a powerful influence for years to 
come on lines of exploration, collection, and critical research. 
To those who have never tried it, it may seem an easy matter 
to sort out specimens of different kinds when a large number 
are brought together, or to prepare descriptions sufficient to 
enable another man to identify his specimen ; but in reality 
it requires not only much experience and careful study, but a 
certain aptitude, power of grasping salient points, and of put- 
ting aside unessentials such as are rarely possessed by any 

As an example of Professor Baird's ability in generaliza- 
tion, Doctor Billings cites his paper on the distribution and 
migrations of North American birds. In this he maps out 
the country into regions corresponding to the distribution of 
different kinds of birds ; discusses the relations of these re- 
gions to surface topography, altitude, temperature, mountain 
chains, etc. ; points out that there are certain correspondences 
in the distribution of reptiles and fishes, and draws the con- 
clusion that North American birds of wide distribution in lati- 
tude, whether migrants or residents, will be found to be larger 

178 The Smithsonian Institution 

the higher the latitude of their place of birth ; that specimens 
from the Pacific coast are apt to be darker than those from 
the interior, and that specimens from near the line of junction 
of two well-marked provinces or regions often show the influ- 
ence of hybridization. When he comes to discuss migrations, 
it is in their relations to the laws of the winds of the Northern 
Hemisphere that he studies them, and concludes that the trans- 
fer of American birds to Europe is mainly due to air currents. 

He did not himself produce much of this sort of scientific 
literature, for he had not the opportunity, since at the very 
period of his career when he was best fitted to make such 
studies, he had to give almost his whole time and energy 
to routine administrative duties. "This paper alone," says 
Billings, " is sufficient evidence of his capacity for general- 
izing from a series of isolated facts." 

"The two men," continues Billings, "who have exerted the 
strongest influence upon natural history studies in this country 
are Louis Agassiz and Professor Baird. In many respects 
they were very unlike ; circumstances gave them widely 
different fields, and they worked on different plans and by 
different methods. They began their public career in this 
country almost together ; but Agassiz was already famous as 
the result of seventeen years' incessant work, while Baird 
was an almost unknown youth. Agassiz was a born teacher, 
a fascinating lecturer, gifted with eloquence which won its 
way everywhere ; Baird could only speak freely in the pres- 
ence of a few, and for the most part taught only by the pen 
and by example. Each of them created a great museum in 
spite of many obstacles, the first winning the means largely 
from private contributions, which were a tribute to his elo- 
quence ; the second gaining his end more indirectly, through 
his connection with the Smithsonian Institution and gov- 
ernment. Each of them gathered around him young men 

The Three Secretaries 179 

who were stimulated and encouraged by his example, who 
followed his methods, have continued his work, and have 
tauorht others, so that there are now observers and workers 
almost everywhere. The first made great use of the micro- 
scope and of embryology ; the second very little, for he had 
to use the material available. The first had a vivid imagina- 
tion which led him to frame many theories and hypotheses to 
be verified or disproved by future investigation and research ; 
the second classified the facts before him, but theorized very 
little. Professor Baird's career as an original investigator 
was hampered and finally stopped by his administrative work, 
but in proportion as this latter increased he was able to fur- 
nish materials and opportunities for others. The pupils of 
Agassiz and Baird are the working naturalists of to-day and 
the teachers of those who are to come, and the two methods 
of study are being combined and developed to produce re- 
sults of which we already have good reason to be proud, and 
the end of which no man can foresee." 


The influence of Professor Baird in the encouragement of 
scientific enterprise was exceedingly great. The relation of 
the Smithsonian Institution to scientific exploration, espe- 
cially in natural history and ethnology, is for all time in- 
separably connected with the history of the country. This 
department of its work was from its inception under the di- 
rection of the Assistant Secretary, and so intimately through 
him was the Institution connected with the scientific work of 
the exploring expeditions that the annual reports from 1851 
to 1871 contain what is practically a complete history of the 
work of the government in the exploration of the great un- 
known reoions of the West. This constitutes, in fact, the 

i8o The Smithsonian Instihttion 

only systematic record of government explorations for this 
period which has ever been prepared. 

The decade beginning with 1850 was one of great activity 
in exploration. Our frontier was being rapidly extended 
toward the West, but in the territory between the Mississippi 
were immense regions which were entirely unknown. Nu- 
merous government expeditions were sent forth and enor- 
mous collections were gathered and sent to Washington to 
be reported upon. The Institution had been designated by 
law custodian of these collections, and within its walls as- 
sembled the naturalists by whose exertions they had been 
brought together. Professor Baird was surrounded by con- 
ditions most congenial and stimulating, for he found full scope 
for his energy in arranging scientific outfits for these expedi- 
tions, preparing instructions for explorers, and, above all, in 
inspiring them with enthusiasm for the work. 

To him also fell in large part the task of receiving the col- 
lections, arranging for the necessary investigations, and the 
accumulation and publication of the results. 

The natural history portion of the reports of the Mexican 
Boundary Surveys, the Pacific Railroad Surveys, and the 
expeditions of Ives, Marsh, Stansbury, McClellan, and 
others, as well as those of the Wilkes exploring expe- 
dition, which remained still under investigation, were all 
prepared with his cooperation, and in large degree under 
his supervision. 

This, however, was only a small part of his work, for he 
maintained relationships with numerous private collectors, 
who derived their materials, their books, and, to a consider- 
able extent, their enthusiasm from him. The various "In- 
structions to Collectors," which have passed through several 
editions, as well as numerous circulars written with a similar 
purpose, originated with him. 

The Three Secretaries i8i 

As a result of this work, a large number of men were 
trained as collectors and observers ; among them not a few 
who have since become eminent in various departments of 
science: Gill, Hayden, Girard, Kennicott, Dall, Bannister, 
Culbertson, Stimpson, Ridgway, Rathbun, Bean, Ryder, 
True, and Gushing. The list might be extended for many 
lines. Amone the older men who were thus associated with 
him were Meek, Cooper, Kennerly, Suckley, Gibbs, New- 
berry, Parry, Powell — all names familiar in the history of 
American exploration. 

Many army officers detailed for this same work became 
enthusiastic naturalists, and sent in important collections and 
notes. Some of these men subsequently became famous as 
military leaders. I have seen a manuscript on the "Moun- 
tain Sheep," written by General George H. Thomas and pre- 
pared for the press by Professor Baird. General Winfield 
Scott and General George B. McClellan both made collec- 
tions of reptiles in the West, the genus Scotophis and the 
species PituopJiis McClellanii commemorating their names ; 
and among other monuments to men also known as military 
heroes are the species named for McCall, Van Vliet, Graham, 
Couch, Fremont, and Emory. 

Even more striking was the enthusiasm of the officers of 
the Hudson Bay Company in the far North, and with all 
these men an active personal relationship was m.aintained. 

" Collections and correspondence," writes Dall, " poured in 
upon Professor Baird in extraordinary quantity. Not alone 
was the shedding of its horn by the antelope on the Western 
plains, or the nesting of the canvasback among Alaskan 
marshes, the theme of eager letter writing. The ladies of 
his household might often have been seen among the shops, 
seeking novels for the army officer at some isolated post, a 
necktie for a Northern voyager, or the dress goods for a 

1 82 The Smithsonian Instihition 

wedding to come off on the banks of the Mackenzie during 
the crisp Arctic September." 

The war of 1861-65 broke rudely into these happy days, 
and after it closed the old relationships were never entirely 
resumed, although the Institution was closely related to the 
natural history work of the early surveys of Hayden, Wheel- 
er, King, and Powell. Many of the Polar expeditions, and 
still earlier, the natural history survey of Alaska under the 
direction of Kennicott and Dall, were largely under the influ- 
ence of Professor Baird ; while later his interest in Arctic zo- 
ology manifested itself in the pains which he took to secure 
the appointment of naturalists as observers at the various 
stations of the International Meteorological Service. The 
important explorations of Nelson, Turner, and Murdoch in 
the far Northwest, and of Kumlien and Turner in Labrador, 
were thus provided for. 


Natural history and the directing of explorations were only a 
portion of that for which he was held officially responsible, 
for his first duty was from the start in connection with cer- 
tain departments of routine. The system of international 
exchanges, for instance, was organized by him in all its de- 
tails. His first task after entering upon his duties on Octo- 
ber II, 1850, was to distribute the second volume of the 
" Contributions to Knowledge." In connection with his pri- 
vate enterprises he had already developed a somewhat 
extensive system of exchanges with European and Amer- 
ican correspondents, and the methods thus established were 
expanded to meet the wider needs of the Institution. 

He had in charge also the details of organizing the corps 
of meteorological observers, and for twenty years wrote out 

The Three Secretaries 183 

with his own hand daily a large number of briefs of letters 
for the signature of the Secretary. 

The development of the natural history collections was the 
work for which he cared the most. As has already been in- 
dicated, the private collection which he brought with him to 
Washington formed the nucleus of the Smithsonian Museum. 
The only specimens in the possession of the Institution at the 
time of his arrival were a few boxes of minerals and plants. 
The gatherings of the Wilkes expedition — the legal nucleus 
of the Museum — were at that time under the charge of the 
National Institute and arranged in the Patent Office building; 
but it was not until 1857 that the Regents finally consented 
that this material should be transferred to its building. Be- 
fore this time Congress had granted no funds for the support 
of the Smithsonian cabinets, and its collections had been ac- 
quired and cared for at the expense of its own endowment. 
They had, however, become so large and important before 
1857 that the so-called "National Collection" at that time 
acquired was but small in comparison. 

The National Museum had thus a double origin, its actual, 
though not its legal, nucleus having been the collection as- 
sembled at the Smithsonian prior to 1857. Its methods 
of administration were the very same which had been de- 
veloped by Professor Baird in Carlisle as early as 1845, 
and are still in use, having stood the test of nearly fifty 
years without any necessity for their modification having 
become apparent. 

In the fifth annual report of the Institution, now exceed- 
ingly rare, is a communication by the Assistant Secretary in 
charge of the Natural History Department, which after enu- 
merating the specimens belonging to the Museum January i, 
1 85 1, discussed fully the possibilities for the development of 
natural history collections in W^ashington — a remarkable 

184 The Smithsonian Institution 

paper in which the germs of all future development were 

The period of the Civil War was one of comparative quiet, 
though much was accomplished by Baird and his pupils ; and 
his two most scholarly memoirs — the " Review of Amer- 
ican Birds " and the " Distribution and Migrations of North 
American Birds" — were then written. 

During this decade were continued the summer expedi- 
tions, usually extending through a period of two or three 
months, which were yearly more and more exclusively de- 
voted to the investigation of aquatic life, and ultimately led 
to the organization of the Fish Commission in 1871. 

During this period, too, the tendencies toward interest in 
the problems of general science growing out of his early 
connection with the " Iconographic Cyclopaedia" began to 
revive, and he felt a new interest in the popularization of 
scientific subjects. 

At the solicitation of Mr. George W. Childs, he took charge 
in 1867 of the column of scientific intelligence in the Phila- 
delphia Public Ledger, and about 1870 became the scientific 
editor of the periodicals published by Harper & Brothers, 
of New York. His connection with this firm continued until 
1878, and in addition to his contributions to other periodicals, 
there resulted eight volumes of the "Annual Record of Sci- 
ence and Industry." About the time he became Secretary 
of the Institution these editorial labors were abandoned, but 
the idea of the annual record was continued in the appendices 
to the Smithsonian Report until 1888 under the title of 
" Record of Progress." 


In 1 87 1 an entirely new interest was intrusted to his care, 
when he was appointed by President Grant United States 

The Three Secretaries 185 

Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries. The duties of this 
office, although not permitted to interfere with his other offi- 
cial work, occupied nevertheless a large portion of his time 
and much of his best thought for the remaining years of his 

The interests of the Fish Commission, so limited at first 
that they were performed largely by himself and a few volun- 
teer associates, soon became so extensive that he was obliged 
to give up personal studies and to work entirely through the 
agency of others. So rapidly did the work extend in later 
years that notwithstanding the large and competent staff 
which the increased appropriations enabled him to employ, 
the burden of routine grew greater than he was able, with his 
other responsibilities, to endure, and led to his untimely 

The work of the Fish Commission while under his charge 
was the most prominent of all the efforts of the government 
in the way of aggressive scientific research. 

The law which authorized the appointment of a Commis- 
sioner of Fish and Fisheries defined his duties as follows : 

"To prosecute investigations and inquiries on the subject 
[of the diminution of valuable fishes], with the view of ascer- 
taining whether any and what diminution in the number of 
the food-fishes of the coast and the lakes of the United States 
has taken place ; and, if so, to what causes the same is due ; 
and also whether any and what protective, prohibitory, or 
precautionary measures should be adopted in the premises ; 
and to report upon the same to Congress." 

The same resolution required that the Commissioner should 
be a civil officer of the government, of proved scientific a?id 
practical acquaintance with tJie fishes of the coast. Only one 
man was eligible under these conditions. Indeed, the office 
had been made for Professor Baird. 


1 86 The Smithsonian Institution 

The work of the Commission was at first limited to the in- 
vestigation of the causes of the decrease in the food-fishes of 
the Atlantic coast, and it was in this connection that the sum- 
mer stations were established in successive years at Eastport, 
Noank, Portland, Newport, Gloucester, Providence, and finally 
at Woods Hole, where a permanent station and biological 
laboratory were erected. It soon came to pass that the Great 
Lakes and also the rivers were included in the province of 
the Commission, and that the Commissioner was required to 
undertake extensive operations in practical fish-culture. This 
last has now become the most prominent part of the work of 
the Commission, but was in early years regarded by Profes- 
sor Baird as incidental to his own interest, which was to dis- 
cover the facts upon which fish-culture, fishery legislation, and 
fishery economy in general, must of necessity forever rest. 

In making his original plans, he had insisted that to study 
only the food-fishes would be of little importance, and that 
useful conclusions must need rest upon the broad foundation 
of purely scientific investigation. The life-histories of econo- 
mic species were to be understood from beginning to end, but 
no less requisite was it to know all about the animals and 
plants upon which they feed or upon which their food is nour- 
ished ; the habits of their enemies and friends, and the foes 
and friends of their friends and enemies ; as well as the cur- 
rents, temperatures, and other physical phenomena of the 
waters which are so intimately related to migration, repro- 
duction, and growth. 

In furtherance of these views, he carried on an exhaustive 
biological survey of the waters of the United States and of 
the adjoining regions of the Atlantic and Pacific. What was 
done by the Fisk Hawk and the Albatross, vessels designed 
by him and constructed under his personal supervision, has 
given to our nation a most honorable place among the Gov- 

The Three Secretaries 187 

ernments of the world in the field of deep-sea research. 
The achievements of the British ship Challenger are famous 
throughout the world on account of the magnificent series of 
reports, published by the Government, based upon its collec- 
tions. The material accumulated by Professor Baird's ves- 
sels was quite as extensive, and had he lived the reports 
would have been equally famous. 

The marine biological laboratory at Woods Hole is the 
most extensive, and at the time of its completion was one of 
the best equipped, in the world. Had his plans for it come to 
fruition, it would have been without a rival among such es- 

Notwithstanding his own taste and inclinations, all per- 
sonal work in natural history was soon abandoned to others, 
and his own great powers of administration applied to the 
practical side of the work — a task for which he had little per- 
sonal liking. He nevertheless did it with enthusiasm, since 
he was convinced that the increase in the food supply which 
he was thus rendering practicable was of the greatest impor- 
tance to millions of his fellow-citizens. To him was due the 
inception of what I have termed "public fish-culture," to dis- 
tinguish it from all previous work of this kind, performed, as 
it always had been, upon a limited scale, and for the benefit 
of a few individuals. 

"Public fish-culture" is fish-culture for the benefit of the 
masses. It does not depend for its effectiveness upon the as- 
sistance of protective legislation. It is based upon the idea 
that it is better so to increase the supply of fishes by artificial 
propagation that protective laws are not necessary ; that it is 
cheaper to make fish so abundant that the fisheries need not 
be restricted, than to spend large sums of money in prevent- 
ing people from fishing. " Public fish-culture " is essentially 
democratic and American. In 1S83 I wrote: "'Public fish- 

1 88 The Smithsonian Institution 

culture ' scarcely exists except in America, though in Europe 
many eminent men of science appreciate its importance and 
are striving to educate the people up to the point of support- 
ing it." These words, after the lapse of thirteen years, are 
still true. 

In 1883 Professor Huxley remarked: " If the people of 
Great Britain are going to deal seriously with the sea fisher- 
ies, and not let them take care of themselves, as they have 
done for the last thousand years or so, they have a very 
considerable job before them, and unless they put into the 
organization of the fisheries the energy, the ingenuity, the 
scientific knowledge, and the professional skill which char- 
acterize my friend Professor Baird and his assistants, their 
efforts are not likely to come to very much good." " I do 
not think," he added, " that any nation at the present time 
has comprehended the question of dealing with fish in so 
thorough, excellent, and scientific a spirit as the United 

The juries of the Fishery Exhibition in Berlin in 1880 said 
in their official report : " We must thank America for the prog- 
ress which fish-culture has made during the past decade." 

The principal French authority, M. Raveret-Wattel, wrote: 
" Nowhere has a Government given so much enlightened care 
to the rational cultivation of the waters, and afforded such 
efficient protection and generous encouragement." 

The importance of his services to fishery economy were 
perhaps more fully recognized in Germany than elsewhere. At 
the first great International Fishery Exhibition, — that held in 
Berlin in 1880, — the magnificent silver trophy, the first prize 
of honor, was awarded to him by the Emperor. His portrait 
was placed over the entrance to the American court, and 
Herr von Behr, president of the German Fishery Union, 
never passed beneath it without taking off his hat in honor of 

The Three Secretaries 189 

the man whom he deHghted to call the " first fish culturist of 
the world " : he insisted that whoever might be in his com- 
pany should follow his example, and the late Emperor Fred- 
erick, at that time Crown Prince and " Protector of Fisher- 
ies," did homage in the same manner to the American phil- 

The German Fishery Union issued a circular immediately 
after his death, which contained the following appreciative 
eulogy : 

" Ein edler Freund in weiter Feme, — ein Wohlthater des 
Deutschen Fischerei-Vereins, ist dahin geschieden. Wir 
trauern am Grabe des uneigenniitzigen, schlichten Gelehrten, 
der ein langes Leben lang den Austausch geistiger Arbeit 
zwischen Europa und Amerika auf vielen Gebieten der Na- 
turkunde gepflegt hat, der seit Jahren auch unermiidlich be- 
strebt war, von dem Reichthume amerikanischer Gewasser an 
Deutschland abzugeben. Keines Lobes oder auch nur Dan- 
kes gewartig, hielt sich Professor Baird taglich und stiindlich 
bereit, Fragen zu beantworten und Aufschliisse zu ertheilen. 
Noch mehr ; aus eigenem Antriebe bot er dem befreundeten 
deutschen Fischerei-Verein das beste an, was nach seinem 
gewiegten Urtheile sich fiir uns eignen konnte. Ihm ver- 
dankt die Fauna unserer vaterlandischen Strome seit 1878 die 
Zufiihrunsf von nicht weniger als vier der edelsten Fische aus 
dem Salmonidengeschlechte, die sammtlich bereits durch 
Nachzucht unser bleibendes, gesichertes Eigenthum geworden 
sind, namlich : des Binnensee-Lachses (landlocked salmon), 
der Regenbogenforelle (rainbow trout), des Bachsaiblings 
(brook trout), und der amerikanischen Marane (white fish). 
Auch den in Amerika sobeliebten Black Bass und den Catfish 
(Zwerwels), von dem wir uns Nutzen fiir die heimischen 
Strome versprechen, danken wir ihm. Nicht weniger als zehn 
Millionen befruchteter Eier mogen in seinem Auftrage aus 
den unermesslichen Schatzen, iiber welche die ' United States 
Commission of Fish and Fisheries ' zu verfiigen hat, iiber den 
Ocean uns zuorecrancren sein. 


iQo The Smithsonian Instihition 

" Herr Spencer F. Baird war es auch, dessen kraftiger For- 
derung wir i. J. 1880 den Entschluss der Bundesregierung, 
die berliner Internationale Ausstellung zu beschicken, we- 
sentlich verdanken. Mit solcher Umsicht und mit so s^ross- 
artiger Vollstandigkeit wurde die amerikanische Abtheilung 
derselben ausgeriistet, dass man sie ohne Weiteres als die 
lehrreichste und wichtigste aller Ausstellungen der Fremde 
bezeichnen konnte, so dass der grosse Ehrenpreis Sr. Maje- 
stat des Kaisers dem Professor Baird zugesprochen wurde. 

*' Moge Amerika die Verdienste des edlen Mannes einge- 
hend darstellen und dauernd ehren, der das Ehrenamt als 
Vorsitzender der ofenannten Kommission, durch iiberreiche 
Zuwendung der Bundeskasse und die Freigebigkeit der Ei- 
senbahngesellschaften unterstlitzt, mit so kraftiger Initiative 
zur Erneuerung des bereits dezimirten Fischbestandes aus- 
nutzte, — der die nur in einzelen Stromgebieten heimschen 
Fische alien andern im Osten und Westen des gewaltigen 
Landes zuganglich machte, — der sogar Dampfschiffe bauen 
liess, um sie als bewegliche Bruthauser zu benutzen, — dem 
auch jeder Versuch willkommen war, europaische Fische 
driiben zu akklimatisiren. Dass wir in letzterer Hinsicht 
dem unvergesslichen Freunde auch unserseits haben dienst- 
bar sein konnen, gereicht uns zur lebhaften Genugthuung. 
Zwei dem amerikanischen Festlande frliher unbekannte Ar- 
ten, der Karpfe und die Forelle, sind von Deutschland aus 
dort eingefUhrt worden. Beide mit staunenswerthem Erfolge. 
Der Karpfe, namentlich, hat driiben (wenn der Ausdruck ge- 
stattet wird) ein neues Leben begonnen. Wie er in kijrze- 
ster Frist zu kaum gekannten Massen heranwachst, so bemii- 
hen sich die Amerikaner ihrerseits mit wahrhafter Vorliebe 
um den Ankommling; eine eigene Zeitschrift beschaftigt sich 
seit Kurzem mit den Schicksalen des Karpfen in jedem Theile 
der Union. Wir vernehmen mit Befriedigung, dass sein mehr 
jahriger Mitarbeiter, Herr Professor Brown Goode, nunmehr 
seine Stelle iibernehmen soil. Moo^e der liebenswUrdio-e Ge- 
lehrte, dessen sich viele von unserer Fischereiausstellung her 
erinnern werden, in die Fusstapfen seines Vorgangers voll 
und wiirdiglich eintreten. Uns wird er allezeit bereit finden, 

The Three Secretaries 191 

mit ihm in demselben Geiste der Briiderlichkeit, der uns niit 
dem Verewigten verband, waiter zu arbeiten. 

"Spencer F. Baird war am 8 Februar 1823 zu Reading in 
Pennsylvanien geboren. Er war Vorsteher des Smithsonian 
Institute zu Washington. Am 18 August d. J. verschied er 
zu Wood's Holl. Im Herzen seiner deutschen wie seiner 
amerikanischen Freunde wird er lange, lange fortleben. Ave, 
cara anima / " ^ 


In May, 1878, he was unanimously elected to succeed Pro- 
fessor Henry as the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. 
In this position he continued the policy of his predecessor, 
though with more attention to exploration. The number of 
publications was increased and more attention paid to the 
development of the library. He secured legislation authoriz- 
ing the expansion of the endowment fund invested in the 
Treasury to one million dollars, and began to agitate the 
question of scholarships in connection with the Institution. 
During his administration, too, was erected the annex build- 
ing to contain the overflow of the collections of the National 
Museum, which had been so suddenly expanded through his 
influence at the Philadelphia Exposition. To the construc- 
tion of this building, which covers an area of nearly two and 
a half acres, he gave his personal attention, and completed it 
for less than the amount of the appropriation, turning a small 
balance into the Treasury, something which has rarely hap- 
pened in the erection of government buildings, and which is 
still remembered in Congress as remarkable. 

The building has been severely criticized because of its 
lack of architectural dignity, but it is by far the cheapest 
structure of the kind ever built, the cost for each square foot 
of floor space available for exhibition having been only two 

1 Circular No. 4 (pages 59, 60), Berlin, October 13, 1887. 

192 The Smithsonian Institution 

dollars and a half, while no other museum building has cost 
less than eleven dollars for the same unit. It was regarded 
by Professor Baird as a temporary structure, and he acted 
upon the theory, which experience has shown to be a wise 
one, that in order to secure for the future a museum worthy 
of the nation, the first necessity was a building of great ca- 
pacity, in which the extraordinary opportunities at that time 
presented for accumulating and organizing great collections 
could be utilized. 

The larger portion of his time was still occupied by his 
duties as Commissioner of Fisheries, yet the Institution and 
its dependencies were constantly in his mind, and the ten 
years of his incumbency were marked by an extraordinary 
expansion in every direction of the Institution's potentiality 
for the future. 

Honors were showered upon him from every quarter of 
the world. The King of Norway and Sweden, in 1875, made 
him a Knight of the Order of St. Olaf; in 1878 he received 
the medal of the Acclimatization Society of Melbourne ; in 
1879 the gold medal of the Societe d'Acclimatation de France. 

He was an honorary member of many scientific societies in 
England, Germany, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, Austra- 
lia, New Zealand, Holland, Switzerland, Canada, and the 
United States. Even Japan was not unmindful of his services 
to science, and from distant Yezo came soon after his death 
a little volume printed on silk containing his portrait and an 
appreciation in Japanese. 

A few months before his death, at the 250th anniversary 
of Harvard University, he received the degree of LL. D. 
This was one of the few occasions upon which he was ever 
induced to ascend the platform in a public place. 

The village of Baird, in Shasta County, California, was 
named for him in 1877. 

The Three Secretaries 193 

His most lasting memorials, however, are those living- 
monuments which commemorate the activity of naturalists — 
the animals which are named for them by their disciples. Of 
these there are more than forty, conspicuous among which 
are Baird's Tapir {E lasmogiiatJius Bairdii), a large mammal 
of Central America ; Baird's Dolphin {Delphinus Bairdii), 
a species found in the Pacific waters of the United States ; 
and Baird's Octopus, the first conspicuous new form of inver- 
tebrate discovered in the early explorations of the Fish Com- 
mission on the New England coast. 

The most modest of men. Professor Baird cared not for 
public recognition. Mis indifference to self was his most 
conspicuous characteristic. He could never be induced to 
address an audience, something which seems all the more 
remarkable to his friends, who remember how winning was 
his eloquence when he talked in the presence of a few. 

The power of his persuasive suavity was never better seen 
than when in the presence of the committees of Congress be- 
fore whom he was summoned from year to year to justify his 
requests for money to be used in the extension of his work. 
He was always received with the heartiest welcome, and these 
keen, bustling, practical men of business, who ordinarily 
rushed with the greatest of expedition through the routine of 
the day, forgot their usual hurry when Professor Baird was 
before them, and listened so long as he could be induced to 
talk, and not infrequently would wander from the business 
before them to ask him questions upon subjects which his re- 
marks suggested. A very practical evidence of their appre- 
ciation was the prompt action upon the bill, passed soon after 
his death, giving twenty-five thousand dollars to his widow in 
recognition of the uncompensated services which he had ren- 
dered as Commissioner of Fisheries. 

194 The Smithsonian Institution 


His personal traits have been sympathetically described by 
intimate friends in the many eulogies which were published 
soon after his death, and the appreciations of his character 
presented by Billings, Dall, Ridgway, Sharpe, and Powell 
have a peculiar interest, since each writer has depicted a 
phase of his character especially familiar to himself To 
these are now added two others, the first written by Pro- 
fessor John S. Newberry, who had known him as early as 
1850, and the other by Professor Harrison Allen of Phila- 
delphia, whose acquaintance was of somewhat later date. 
Professor Newberry writes : 

" His most marked characteristics, and those which gained 
the affection and admiration of all who were brought into 
contact with him, were his great knowledge, his geniality, 
and his phenomenal industry. His courtesy was proverbial, 
and his remarkable success in dealing with jealous and often 
antagonistic government departments was largely due to his 
tact and sagacity. He seemed always to get what he wanted, 
but it was by a geniality which melted down all opposition, 
and never by the tricks and subterfuges so common among 
politicians. His suavity was irresistible, making allies and 
helpers of friends, and disarming all antagonists. 

" As a consequence of the possession of all these charming 
qualities, and as a reward for the kindness he was sooner or 
later doing to every one about him, he was without an enemy, 
and more popular and beloved than any other man I have 

" I have said that his industry was phenomenal : he really 
seemed never to waste a moment ; he had a wonderful head 
for details and was an ideal business man. All the innumer- 
able ramifications of the practical work of the Smithsonian 
were not only known to, but were really controlled by him ; 

The Three Secretaries 195 

every moment of his time was occupied, and he worked with 
singular speed and efficiency ; yet he was never hurried or 
flustered and never so much engrossed in his work but that 
he had a pleasant word for strangers, and an open ear to all 
the wishes or complaints of his numerous assistants and em- 
ployees. When busiest in tabulating the results of the enor- 
mous collections which were accumulated at the Smithsonian 
by his means, if his daughter, then a child, came with any 
request, he turned from his work to listen to her prattle, 
and lent himself to her wants and wishes as though he had 
nothing else in the world to attend to. His wife was a great 
invalid, and there were days when, very nervous, she could 
scarcely spare him from her sight. I have known him to sit 
for many hours at her bedside, holding her hand in one of 
his while with the other he went on with his writing, ready 
at any instant to administer to her wants and wishes, and yet 
utilizing every free moment. 

" His administrative abilities were of the very highest 
order. As has been said, he not only managed the business 
of the Institution in all its arrangements with remarkable 
success, but he instituted and carried out a system of observa- 
tions and collections in natural history that covered the entire 
North American continent. All the departments of govern- 
ment were ready to make their machinery tributary to his 
wants ; the express companies and other lines of transporta- 
tion carried all his articles free, the agents of the Hudson 
Bay Company even to the Arctic Circle ; and both officials 
and private persons in Mexico and the West Indies constituted 
themselves representatives of the Smithsonian, and were con- 
stantly sending in gratuitously collections which would have 
cost, if paid for, thousands of dollars. Within the United 
States Professor Baird had friends and correspondents every- 
where, who were working along his lines in the interest of 
science. In all this he really was Napoleonic, and the result 
was that the old Smithsonian building was crowded with 
priceless treasures in every department of natural science, 
and the National Museum, his creation, was erected and 
filled ; and now the channels he opened are bringing to 

196 The Smithsonian Insfitufion 

Washingfton such a flood of material that a new museum is 
absolutely indispensable for its reception.^ 

"The Fish Commission, with all its grand results, is the 
product of his enterprise and good management. This in it- 
self would constitute a monument that should satisfy the am- 
bition of any man, but it is only one of the good works of the 
purest, best, kindliest, and most useful man of science America 
has yet produced. 

" He was constantly doing good to others, and was the 
most unselfish of men. Nothing gave him greater pleasure 
than to encourage and push forward the young men about 

"Among the collections which I brought from Oregon was 
a woodpecker, supposed to be new. Of this he wrote and 
published a description, crediting the species to me without 
my knowledge or consent, for the credit of the discovery all 
belonged to him. He was just as generous in his dealings 
with all others, and he seemed to be entirely free from the 
desire for notoriety which is so common among scientific men. 
He had his ambition, of course, but it was of a lofty and un- 
selfish kind, for the advancement of science ; and for the ac- 
complishment of this he preferred to encourage and help all 
true workers rather than to monopolize material and gain 
honor and fame for himself. 

" Only once did I have any difference with Professor Baird. 
I questioned the policy of Professor Henry, who desired to 
make the Smithsonian a mere bureau of information and an 

1 Doctor Billings writes : " It was the pos- friend, Mr. Marsh, about a scheme for a na- 
sibility of creating a great museum of natural tional museum, and a year later he got so far 
history that inducedhim to come to the Smith- as to consider plans and size of buildings, 
sonian, and he never lost sight of this object ; having in view apparently something like the 
but for a long time he had to work largely by Crystal Palace. He was not working aim- 
indirect methods. He did not directly op- lessly all those years. He could not have 
pose the policy of Professor Henry, and al- what he wanted just then, but he had faith 
ways worked harmoniously with him, but he in the future, and meantime went on with his 
lost no opportunity of increasing the collcc- duties, which Mr. Marsh [Life and Letters 
tions, and constantly urged that the best way of George P. Marsh. Volume i, page 262]. 
to induce Congress to grant the means of characterized as 'answering of foolish letters, 
caring for such things was to accumulate ma- directing of packages to literary societies, 
terial worth caring for until its amount and reading of proof-sheets, and other mechanical 
value should be such that pulilic opinion ojierations pertaining unto tlie diffusion of 
would demand ample accommodation for it. knowledge.'" ("Biographical Memoirs of the 
So early as 1853 we find him writing to his National Academy." Volume III, page I45.) 

The Three Secretaries 197 

office for the publication of such scientific papers as were too 
voluminous or abstract to be given to the public through 
other channels. The library and museum were, therefore, 
looked upon by him with little favor. On the contrary, I 
thought the Smithsonian should be a bureau of investigation, 
where scientific material should be accumulated and studied 
by the help of a fine scientific library. So I opposed the 
transfer of the library to the Capitol as the giving up of an 
important part of the machinery of the Smithsonian. What- 
ever Professor Baird's private views on this subject may have 
been he was so loyal to his chief as never to encourage or 
countenance any opposition to his wishes. I felt, as I feel 
now, that the influence exerted by the Smithsonian on the 
government and the people of Washington will be measured 
by the space it occupies and the tangible evidence it furnishes 
to the public of the work it is doing. So I rejoice that the 
Smithsonian has preserved and greatly increased its collec- 
tions, until its museum is now the finest in the country, and a 
source of instruction and delight to the thousands on thou- 
sands who visit the capital. Time has, I think, vindicated 
my views with reference to the library, and it is recognized 
that, as one of several collections of books, a scientific library 
is an indispensable part of its machinery. 

" An effort was made by those who were envious of the 
great success of Professor Baird in accumulating scientific 
material to have the abundant collections brought to the 
Smithsonian by governmental expeditions distributed to 
other museums. Fortunately, Professor Baird's opposition to 
this scheme prevented its success ; yet no one, except those 
who were about him at the time, knows how much labor and 
anxiety the retention of the museum cost him. But for him, 
the splendid array of scientific material which is now the 
glory of the Smithsonian would never have been gathered or 

Professor Allen writes : 

"My acquaintance with Professor Baird began in 1861. 
At that time I was studying medicine in Philadelphia, and. 

198 The Smithsonian Institution 

since the study of the natural sciences was recommended, I 
was in the habit of frequenting the library of the Academy of 
Natural Sciences. One day, while reading Griffith's transla- 
tion of Cuvier's " Regne Animal," I was approached by a gen- 
tleman who asked me what I was reading. I chanced to be 
looking over the chapter which treated of the bats. In the 
course of the conversation that ensued he advised me to go 
to the specimens rather than to content myself with reading 
about them. This was the first notice I had ever received 
from any one, and the advice made a deep impression upon 
my mind. I afterward ascertained that the strange gentle- 
man was Professor Baird. He was often in Philadelphia, 
being in constant communication with Mr. John Cassin, the 
ornithologist, and I had many opportunities of meeting him. 
The training in habits of exact observation gained by study- 
ing zoology has been of great advantage to me in my profes- 
sion, and I have always felt an indebtedness to Professor 
Baird for his advice and encouragement. 

" During the period that I remained in the army as assis- 
tant surgeon, Professor Baird exerted his influence to obtain 
for me posts of duty which permitted me to pursue my stud- 
ies in natural history. I remained for the most part from 
1862 to 1865 in close association with him at the Smithsonian 

" Professor Baird impressed me as a great organizer. His 
interest in men was much the same as that taken by a gen- 
eral in the officers under his command. It appeared to be 
created by a desire to get certain work done by his lieuten- 
ants, but ended in awakening in his mind an affectionate con- 
cern for their happiness. The field before him was so vast 
that he had need of all collaborators. Nothing appeared to 
give him more satisfaction than to hear of new students com- 
ing forward. 

" It is too soon to estimate the value of his achievements in 
perfecting a scheme of a national collection. But this much 
can be temperately said — namely, that the plan of the magnifi- 
cent museum at Washington is entirely of his own creation. 
The difficulties which attended the formation of this plan 

The Three Secretaries 199 

were greater than is generally known. On one occasion, at 
least, these would have led in any other man less sagacious 
than himself to failure of the entire conception. He came to 
the Smithsonian Institution at a time when its policy was not 
defined. No one can now estimate as he did the obstacles 
to be overcome in giving shape to the materials about him ; 
for not only the apathy of the public, but the opposition of 
men of influence, both in and out of Washington, had to be 
overcome and changed to sympathy at every step. 

" Professor Baird was optimistic in his views of life, judi- 
cial in temperament, liberal in religion, catholic in his opin- 
ions, wise and shrewd in his conduct of affairs. He had a 
genial vein of humor. In his literary tastes he was singularly 
free from pedantry, and entertained a sympathy so wide that 
he was the most approachable of men. I have often won- 
dered at his patience. Nothing appeared to excite him. I 
never saw him in ill-temper. To an extent probably without 
parallel in the history of science, he combined the functions 
of administrator and investigator. This combination did not 
interfere apparently with the kind of work he selected. This 
was purely descriptive and was pursued in a fragmentary 
way, — subject to innumerable interruptions and revisions with- 
out impairment. He once told me that he wrote his book on 
North American birds in sittings which could not have aver- 
aged over fifteen minutes. His industry was enormous. He 
lost no time either by impaired health or by misdirected ef- 
forts ; indeed, he was a personification of systematic energy. 
Thus doubtless it came to pass that the ends for which he so 
persistently fought were achieved, and his name will be asso- 
ciated for all time with the first comprehensive plan for the 
organization of science in America." 


About sixteen years before his death, his elder brother, to 
whom he was devotedly attached, and who had been his as- 
sociate in his earliest natural-history work, died of heart dis- 

200 The Smithsonian Institution 

ease. As early as 1855 Professor Baird had been conscious 
of weakness in the same organ, probably the result of the 
sudden change from athletic outdoor pursuits to desk-work 
which accompanied his coming to the Smithsonian. In 1873, 
when he proposed to me to become his confidential assistant, 
he told me that his condition was such that all exertion, and 
even mental anxiety, was to be avoided at any cost. I do not 
doubt that this knowledge of physical weakness and the re- 
sultant discipline contributed to strengthen the calmness and 
self-control to which so much of his success in later years 
was due. 

This habit had been formed in very early life. Only twice 
was he ever known to show anger : when, at the age of 
twenty, some one abused his favorite Newfoundland dog ; 
and once in the first years of his connection with the Institu- 
tion, when a confidential letter from his aged mother was 
opened and read by a clerk in the course of official routine. 

From early youth until failing strength forbade he kept a 
journal of his daily pursuits, and this, together with immense 
piles of copy-books and letter-files, will afford a treasure to 
his biographer. When the history of his life and times shall 
be written, it will be a history of the natural sciences in 
America in the last two-thirds of the nineteenth century. 

He once remarked to me that he was satisfied that no 
man's life was of such importance to the people among whom 
he lived that he might not easily be replaced by another who 
would fully fill his place. As I looked at the man before me, 
a giant in body and in mind, a treasury of untransferable ex- 
perience and wisdom, it seemed to me that if his judgment 
was in general a true one, in him at least there was an ex- 
ception. And so it has proved. Ten years have passed by 
since he died, and his like has not been found. 

The T J tree Secretaries 201 



bury, Massachusetts, August 22, 1834. At the age of 
eleven he entered the Boston Latin School, and afterward 
the Boston High School, from which he was graduated in 
1 85 1. He was not sent to college, since his tastes tended 
at that time entirely toward mathematical and mechanical 
pursuits. Astronomy, the study which attracted him most, 
could scarcely in those days be expected to offer a career. 
He decided to become a civil engineer, since in that profes- 
sion he would find employment for his mathematical taste, 
for his natural manual dexterity, and his aptness in the use 
of mechanical methods. 

From engineering to architecture is not a distant remove, 
and he presently entered the office of a Boston architect, as 
student. In 1857 he began the practice of his profession in 
the West, but the panic of that year interfered seriously with 
his prospects. The next few years were passed in Chicago 
and St. Louis, leading to little profit at the time, though the 
business discipline and the skill as a draughtsman which he 
then acquired were to be fruitful of results in later years. 

In 1864 he returned to Boston, having decided to abandon 
architecture, but with no other plans for the future. His 
brother, John Williams Langley, also at this time returned to 
his old home in Roxbury, having just finished three years of 
active service as surgeon in the navy. The two brothers 
devoted some months to the building of a telescope, and then 


202 The Smithsonian Institution 

went together to Europe, where they remained for nearly a 
year. Here they studied the Continental languages and 
made leisurely visits to the principal art collections and to 
places of historic interest. In the fall of 1865 they returned 
to New England. 

Still uncertain as to the future, but not yet supposing that 
its promise could possibly be in the direction of astronomy, 
he learned that the observatory in Cambridge was to be 
reorganized, and that new assistants were being selected. 
Presenting himself to the Director, Professor Joseph Win- 
lock, he was cordially received, and the dream of his life was 
realized. He was at last to become an astronomer. 

Thus at the age of thirty he began the serious work of his 
life. He was by no means a novice, for he had been an eager 
student of astronomical works, and had made with his own 
hands telescopes of successively larger size, one of which, 
with a seven-inch aperture, was mounted so effectively that it 
could be used in serious work of observation. Strange to 
say, however, he had never formed the acquaintance of any 
astronomer, and had scarcely, except as a tourist in Europe, 
visited an astronomical observatory. 

From this time on progress was sufficiently rapid to make 
amends for his diversion to other interests in earlier years, 
and before he had reached the age of forty he was recognized 
as one of the most brilliant observers and one of the most 
original philosophic reasoners and astronomers of the century. 

In 1866 he went from Cambridge to Annapolis, having 
been offered the place of Assistant Professor of Mathematics 
in the United States Naval Academy. Here, in connection 
with his other duties, he reorganized the small observatory 
which had been projected by Professor Chauvenet about i860 
but abandoned upon the removal of the Academy to Newport 
during the Civil War. He remounted and put into service 

The Three Secretaries 203 

the equatorial and the meridian circles, and prepared the 
observatory for practical work, an experience which was to 
be of much service to him in the greater responsibilities of 
his next field of duty. 

In the following year he was invited to become Director of 
the Allegheny Observatory, and Professor of Astronomy and 
Physics in the Western University of Pennsylvania, with 
which this observatory was connected. The university was 
in Pittsburg, but the observatory was seated on the crest 
of a lofty hill in the adjacent city of Allegheny. This posi- 
tion he accepted with the expectation of occupying it for a 
short time only ; but in Pittsburg and Allegheny he was 
to remain and labor for twenty years to come. 

In 1887 he was appointed by Professor Baird First Assis- 
tant Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, in charge of 
Library and Exchanges. He still retained his place in Pitts- 
burg, where he passed part of the year, but owing to the 
failing health of Professor Baird it soon became necessary 
for him to assume the duties of Acting Secretary. After the 
death of Professor Baird in 1887, he was elected to the Sec- 


From early boyhood he was interested in the very questions 
to which the studies of his later years have been devoted. In 
regard to this he has recently related some very suggestive 
reminiscences : 

" I cannot remember when I was not interested in astron- 
omy. I remember reading books upon the subject as early 
as at nine, and when I was quite a boy I learned how to make 
little telescopes, and studied the stars through them. Later 
I made some larger ones, and though they were, of course, 
nothing like those we use here, I think myself they were very 

204 The Smithsonian Institution 

good for a boy. One of the most wonderful things to me 
was the sun, and as to how it heated the earth. I used to 
hold my hands up to it and wonder how the rays made them 
warm, and where the heat came from and how. I asked 
many questions, but I could get no satisfactory replies, and 
some of these childish questions have occupied many years 
of my later life in answering. I remember, for instance, one 
of the wonders to me was a common hotbed. I could not 
see how the glass kept it warm while all around was cold, 
and when I asked, I was told that ' of course ' the glass kept 
in the heat ; but though my elders saw no difficulty about it, 
I could not see why, if the heat went in through the glass, it 
could not come out again. Since then I have spent many 
years in studying the way that that great hotbed, the earth 
itself on which we live, is, by a like principle, made warmer 
by the atmosphere that covers it." 

Professor John W. Langley, of the Case School of Applied 
Sciences in Cleveland, writes in response to a recent letter 
of inquiry : 

" My brother quite early in life showed a marked fondness 
for astronomy. I remember that when he was about twenty 
years old he used to make small telescopes. In this work I 
used to help him, and being his junior in years, my position 
was that of first assistant. 

'* With these early telescopes it was possible to see Jupi- 
ter's moons, and the phases of Venus ; Saturn appeared as 
an elliptical object with a faint indication of a separation 
between the planet and its ring. 

"Somewhat later, in the autumn of 1864, we had about 
three months in which both of us were free from fixed duties, 
and we decided to build a reflecting telescope. My brother 
and I had made the acquaintance of Alvan Clark, Sr., who 
at that time was a portrait painter. He had a studio in 
Tremont Street, Boston, but he was just abandoning art for 
optics, and his studio contained about as many lenses in an 
unfinished state as it did portraits, also incomplete. At this 




most wonderful tl 

it and wondc: 

t came 

hnvo nr.c: 



,-vM Ar] 


: i 1 U 

cLil di 

■ LUiU Lii. 

^ i- < 

. r , 


icat ; LUL 

Luuuga n'r' '^ 

t see 

1 • r ■ 

that that gicat he 
:e pri 


ho we 
. old he used to make sn 

rst assistant. 

early telescopes it 

nhases o^ Venus : 

was about twei 




'irait p. 

T T 1. 

.' Ui 

"'i^- rrM'Ai)Vi 

ls, ai -mplete. At 

.7881 Vil aaTOSTJJI 

The Three Secretaries 205 

time the Smithsonian Institution had recently published a 
monograph by the younger Draper, of New York, on the 
making of a reflecting telescope. This, and the advice of Mr. 
Clark, were all we had to go upon. We had a small foot- 
lathe and a few tools in the barn belonging to the house 
where we were living, and with this outfit we undertook to 
make a reflecting telescope seven inches in diameter by five 
feet in focal length, all the work on which, both optical and me- 
chanical, was to be by our own hands, and nothing but crude 
material and a few necessary tools were to be purchased. 
Above all things, no lenses or other completed optical appara- 
tus were on any account to be bought; we were to make it all. 
** Under these conditions of limited outfit and no experi- 
ence, progress was slow, but we persevered. After weeks of 
labor, a speculum would be assumed to have the right shape, 
and ready for an optical test. This generally showed all 
stars with wings, like small comets, and single objects like a 
distant flag-staff, as a double stick with an attendant company 
of ghosts. Then the speculum went back into the grinding 
bed and was wholly reshaped. Eventually all the spare time 
of nearly three years was spent on this telescope, but suc- 
cess was finally reached, the instrument showing practically 
perfect definition for one of its type and size ; but probably 
the finished reflector represented at least twenty others 
abandoned or reground before this result was reached. My 
brother's interest in astronomy and his perseverance would 
not allow us to be satisfied with anything short of a practical 
degree of perfection." 

In those days of boyhood, as the writer has often heard 
Mr. Langley relate, he was deeply interested in the question 
of flight, and spent many an afternoon watching the motions 
of hawks and other birds. 

His taste for mechanical pursuits was early developed. 
He made all kinds of tools and instruments which were re- 
quired in his boyish experiments, and the degree of his skill 
may be judged from the fact that he was able to grind mir- 


2o6 The Suiithsonian Institution 

rors, sufficiently accurate for good astronomical work, with 
apparatus entirely of his own making. 


The career of which an outline has now been presented is 
full of susfo-estions for those who have under consideration 
the theory of educational methods. Still more instructive is 
it to the student of heredity ; all the more so because there 
exists in this case a somewhat unusual opportunity for the 
examination of the sources whence has doubtless been de- 
rived the power of this sturdy and potent intellect. 

It often happens in America, that "smelting-pot of the 
nations," as Froude has called it, that among the ancestors 
of any individual are included not only several European 
races, but the residents of a number of different colonies, 
almost as distinct in mental characteristics and tendencies, in 
early days, as the several European nations. In this case it 
is not so. Mr. Langley's forefathers all came, in the first 
instance, to Massachusetts, mostly in the early part of the 
seventeenth century, and in Massachusetts their descendants, 
with few exceptions, remained until the end of Colonial days. 
The names of nearly one hundred and fifty of them are 
known, and they bear for the most part old English sur- 
names with a slight intermingling of Welsh, and one which 
has a French sound. All are characteristic of Boston, and 
of the neighboring towns which are now actually or practi- 
cally absorbed in it.^ The mingling, in this case so potent 

1 The names, for which, for tlie most part, Hayward, Hills, Howell, Kettell, Langley, 
I am indebted to the antiquarian knowledge Ludkin, Lynde, Mather, Mayo, Phillips, 
of Mr. A. Howard Clark, are the following : Pierce, Pierpont, Pratt, Reynn, Shapleigh, 
Allen, Anderson, Bachelder, Baker, Boyls- Sheperdson, Smith, Sprague, Stalham, Sum- 
ton, Bradish, Branson, Call, Clap, Clark, ner, Sweetser, Thompson, Tufts, Upham, 
Corbin, Cotton, Crosswell, Davis, Deming, \Vaite,Ward, West, Wetherell,WharfT, White, 
Dowse, Fosdick, Foster, Franklin, Goffe, Wigglesworth, Williams, \\'ise, Wood. 

The Three Secretaries 207 

in result, has been that of famiUes of diverse origin and 
occupation, such as would scarcely have been likely to come 
together in an old and established community. 

If one were asked to say what elements it would be best 
to mingle to produce Mr. Langley's peculiar type of mind, 
the theoretical response would probably be very close to that 
which is found to exist in fact. Of the eighty male ancestors 
who have been identified, the occupations of only about thirty- 
five are certainly known ; most of the others were probably 
farmers or others of quiet, retired pursuits, who lived to ripe 
old age, handing down to their descendants great vitality and 
powers of long-living. An unusual number, at least eighteen 
or twenty, were skilful mechanics and artisans ; six at least 
were mariners, and most of these were sea captains. On the 
other hand is found a group of the most intellectual men of 
early New England ; four of them clergymen, three school- 
masters, one a physician, five at least graduates of Harvard, 
one of Oxford, and one of Cambridge. Besides these, there 
were a number who were leaders in public affairs, and who 
aided in extending the frontier of the infant nation, and in 
protecting it against invaders, Indian and European. Six 
were members of Colonial legislative bodies, three were 
lawyers and judges, eight held military commissions in the 
Colonial wars, or in the Revolution, while among the col- 
laterals closely related to these same ancestors were many 
who held representative places in the intellectual life of the 
young colony. 

Among the ancestors were the Reverend Richard Mather, 
who came from Lancaster, in England ; his son, the Reverend 
Doctor Increase Mather, President of Harvard College, and 
author of the first American work upon astronomy; ^ and his 

1 Kometographia, or a Discourse Concern- Stars is Enquired into: With an Historical Ac- 
ing Comets ; wherein the Nature of Blazing count of all the Comets which have appeared 

2o8 The Smithsonian Institution 

grandson, the Reverend Cotton Mather, the last two both 
early members of the Royal Society of London ; also, the 
Reverend John Cotton, D.D., author of nearly fifty books, 
all published in London, — he who introduced into New Eng- 
land the custom of keeping the Sabbath from evening to 
evening. Others were Colonel John Phillips, of Charleston, 
treasurer of the Province of Massachusetts ; Lieutenant Ralph 
Sprague, lieutenant of the Provincial forces in the Pequot 
War, and Captain John Sprague, his son, both members of 
the Massachusetts General Court ; William Sumner and his 
son. Lieutenant George Sumner, of Dorchester and Milton, 
both deputies to the General Court ; Edward Howell, Esquire, 
one of the founders of Southampton (in 1642, the first Eng- 
lish settlement within the present limits of New York), and 
his son. Major John Howell, both members of the Provincial 
Legislature of Connecticut; Captain Stephen Williams, of 
Roxbury, who commanded a troop of horse on the frontier 
from 1707 to 1 71 2, and Colonel Joseph Williams, his grand- 
son, who served in the Mohawk War, the Canadian campaign 
of 1758, and in the Revolution, Captain Samuel Langley, 
Mr. Langley's great-grandfather, was also a Revolutionary 
soldier and commanded a company of veterans engaged in 
the suppression of Shay's Rebellion. And then there was 
another military ancestor, remembered in family tradition, 
who always wore a red coat, and who " when he saw a man 
whose face he did not like, knocked him down." This may 
have been Joseph Pierpont, of Roxbury, who, local history 
tells, fought with the Honorable Captain William Montagu, 
brother of the Earl of Sandwich, commonly called " Mad 
Montagu," and drubbed him within an inch of his life ; so 

from the beginning of the World into this pre- Boston, in New England. . . . Boston in 

sent year MDCLXXXIII. . . . As also two New England. Printed by S. G. for S. S. 

Sermons Occasioned by the late Blazing Stars. and sold by F. Browning. . . . 1683. octo- 

By Increase Mather, Teacher of a Church at decimo, pages (12) I-143+I. 

■ The Three Secretaries 209 

thoroughly, Indeed, that Montagu held him in high regard 
ever after. ^ 

Among those who were close of kin to Mr. Langley's 
forefathers were Michael Wigglesworth, author of that stern 
Calvinistic poem, "The Day of Doom," and the Reverend 
Nathaniel Ward, the earliest of political satirists in America, 
whose pamphlet, "The Simple Cobler of Aggawam," is one 
of the classics of our literature. There were also Doctor 
Zabdiel Boylston, of Boston, the successful pioneer of small- 
pox inoculation in America, elected to the Royal Society in 
1785, in recognition of his achievements as a naturalist, and 
his son John Boylston, founder of the Boylston Fund ; the 
Reverend John Cotton, who revised and edited Eliot's Indian 
Bible, and his brother Josiah, missionary, and author of the 
first vocabulary of the language of the Indians of Massa- 
chusetts ; and all the Mathers, — a wonderful group of men. 
A little further removed were John Adams and John Quincy 
Adams, Presidents of the United States, and John Cotton 
Smith, Governor of Connecticut. 

These facts, however interesting in themselves, are men- 
tioned here solely because of their bearing upon the 
question of heredity. Traits and tendencies transmitted 
from parent to child cannot be measured and summed up 
in a statistical manner. The character of these can only 
be suggested by an enumeration like the one which has 
just been attempted, following in some degree the method 
of Galton. 

It is interesting to note, in passing, that Mr. Langley, 
though a Yankee of the Yankees, descended on all sides from 
families resident in New England from two hundred to two 
hundred and sixty years, has none of the traits, physical or 
mental, which are popularly, though erroneously, supposed to 

1 Drake, Francis Samuel, " The Town of Roxbury," Boston, 1878, page 326. 

2IO The Smithsonian Institution 

be characteristic of New England, but would in Great Britain 
pass anywhere as an excellent example of the very best Eng- 
lish type. 

He was, a-s a boy, a most diligent and omnivorous reader, 
interested alike in literature, art, and science, and utilized the 
excellent public libraries of Boston, especially that of the 
Athenaeum, and was often in attendance at the lectures of 
the Lowell Institute. 

At the beginning of his scientific career his intellectual 
capital appears to have been quite remarkable in extent and 
character. His mind was well stocked with the best thoughts 
of the great minds of the past. He possessed a cultivated 
literary taste, ripened by an acquaintance with the art of the 
Old World, the effect of which was at once evident when he 
began to write for publication. He had skill in the manipu- 
lation of tools, machinery, and instruments of precision, and 
was able to direct others in their use. He was a practical en- 
gineer, familiar with the computations and the applications of 
mechanics and physics ; so familiar, indeed, that they were 
mere pastime to him in their ordinary forms, and that his 
mind was free to rove, like that of Leonardo da Vinci, in 
search of abstruse and curious variants. He was a skilful 
mechanical draughtsman. He was a trained man of business, 
thrifty, alert, and progressive. Beyond all this his unjaded 
mind, while mindful of the most minute details, was quick to 
grasp the essence of the problems which he was studying. 
His thoughts were almost prophetic in regard to the probable 
result of experiments which he was about to begin, yet he was 
ready to seize upon new developments as they occurred, no 
matter how unexpected. His inquiries were forced to their 
results with vigorous insistence. His conclusions were de- 
veloped so clearly, definitely, and positively that it was im- 
possible to misunderstand his meaning. So clearly were 

The lliree Secretaries 211 

these fixed in his thought that he was able to explain them 
even to those entirely unfamiliar with the subject. Notwith- 
standing this freedom from ambiguity so characteristic of all 
his statements, scarcely any of the conclusions of the past 
twenty-five years have been called in question, or given occa- 
sion for general criticism or debate. These characteristics, it 
may safely be said, he brought with him to his work, as a 
part of his equipment. His publications of 1874 exhibited 
these as fully as do those of 1896; yet at the age of sixty- 
two he retains them all. " His eye is not dim nor his natural 
force abated." 


When Mr. Langley went to Pittsburg in 1867, he found 
there an observatory only in name. It consisted of a build- 
ing in which was mounted an equatorial telescope of thirteen 
inches aperture, bought by the university from a local club of 
amateur astronomers. Besides this, there was no apparatus 
whatever, not even a clock, and the equatorial itself was with- 
out the necessary accessories. There was neither library nor 
endowment, and the director of the observatory was at liberty 
to carry on original investigations only when this could be 
done without neglecting his duties as instructor in the 

Before beginning his work as an astronomer, it was 
imperatively necessari^ that he should find some means 
by which this work could be carried on, and to secure an 
income to provide for the instrumental expenses of the 
establishment, his object in going to Pittsburg having been, 
not primarily to teach, but to secure opportunity for original 

From the poverty of the Allegheny Observatory came 

212 The Smithsonian Institution 

forth a result which was of great importance to the entire 
country; this was the inauguration of "time service" sys- 

Although the transmission of time signals from the 
Greenwich Observatory to the city of London was suc- 
cessfully accomplished a few years after the introduction 
of the electro-magnetic telegraph in 1844, the service in 
Great Britain was confined to a limited area during the 
next twenty-five years. 

The British Astronomer Royal in 1869 stated: "The time 
signals pass, amongst other places, to the chief London of- 
fices of the Electric and International Telegraph Company, 
and thence this company sends signals automatically to about 
twenty of the chief towns of England, Ireland, and Scotland. 
The signals are also thus sent to the principal London rail- 
way stations."^ 

In America the Naval Observatory in Washington, the 
observatory of Harvard College, and Doctor Benjamin A. 
Gould, of Albany, had prior to 1869 sent out time signals for 
short distances, "but only in a tentative and discontinuous 

Late in that year Mr. Langley, as Director of the Allegheny 
Observatory, submitted a proposal " for regulating from this 
observatory the clocks of the Pennsylvania Central and other 
railroads associated with it." Upon the Pennsylvania Sys- 
tem, then comprising over 2500 miles of railroad east and 
west of Pittsburg, over 300 telegraph offices were located. 
In the year 1870 Mr. Langley inaugurated the system by 
which accurate time signals were communicated automatically 
twice daily to each of these offices, and " eventually some 
8000 miles of railway were run by this single Allegheny 

1 See letter to Mr. S. P. Langley, quoted in circular of December i, 1S69, issued by 

Allegheny Observatory. 

The Three Secretaries 213 

Observatory clock " ; and to this was added the supply of 
the time to the adjacent cities by a system which made it 
accessible to every inhabitant. 

The Pennsylvania was the first great railway to establish 
and put into effect a systematic and permanent plan for the 
simultaneous transmission of time signals throughout its 
entire line, and to Mr. Langley is due the credit of first 
successfully solving the problem of transmitting time 
signals over this American line, many times greater in 
extent and much more complex in character than the com- 
paratively short English railways, where by the method 
then in vogue the accuracy of the clocks in the inter- 
mediate stations depended entirely upon a comparison 
with watches, which, after being set by the standard clocks 
in the terminal stations, were sent out along the line by 
trainmen charged with the duty of regulating the time- 
pieces and reporting inaccuracies. 

The present system by which the railroad service of the 
whole continent is regulated may be said to be an out- 
growth of that developed nearly thirty years ago at Alle- 
gheny by Mr. Langley. In a letter to Mr. Langley dated 
May 27, 1872, William Thaw, Vice-President and execu- 
tive officer of the Pennsylvania Company, and Chairman 
of the Board of Trustees of the Allegheny Observatory, 
wrote : "I regard the time service as peculiarly your crea- 
tion and dependent solely on you." Mr. Thaw also stated 
that he had communicated the fact officially in writing in 
a report to the Board. 

The income thus derived from the regulation of the time 
service was applied exclusively to the uses of the Allegheny 
Observatory, which obtained from this source almost all its 
regular means for original research, amounting during the 
administration of Mr. Langley to more than sixty thousand 

2 14 The Smithsonian Institution 

dollars. The utility of such service having been demon- 
strated at the Allegheny Observatory, the example was 
followed a year later at Harvard College Observatory, and 
afterward "time services " were for some years an important 
source of income for quite a number of the observatories of 
the United States. 

In the course of two or three years the affairs of the obser- 
vatory became somewhat stable, and there was time for orig- 
inal work in astronomy. Mr. Langley now began a period 
of laborious and minute study of the features of the disk of 
the sun. Indeed this was the one of the heavenly bodies 
which could be most advantageously studied in Pittsburg, 
where the heavens are usually obscured by clouds of smoke 
and dust. In 1869 he was chosen a member of the party 
sent out by the United States Coast Survey to observe the 
total eclipse of August 7, and was stationed at Oakland, Ken- 
tucky. His report, at this time submitted to Professor Joseph 
Winlock, was his first published contribution to science. In 
the winter of 1870 he accompanied another eclipse expedi- 
tion to Jerez de la Frontera, in Spain, where he made impor- 
tant observations upon the coronal rays, and found that the 
polarization of the corona is radial. 

From this period dates the beginning of that brilliant series 
of researches upon the solar atmosphere to which he has 
since devoted so much of his time, and which soon gave him 
high reputation at home and abroad. 

His telescope study of the sun's face, completed in 1873, re- 
vealed the true character of the "granules " upon its disk, from 
which, according to his estimate, much over three-quarters 
of its light are derived. It also resulted in a better under- 
standing of the structure and appearance of the sun-spots. 
His picture of "A Typical Sun-spot," first exhibited in 1873 
at the Portland meeting of the American Association for the 

The Three Secretaries 215 

Advancement of Science, was the result of three years' study. 
This was based directly upon micrometrical measurements, 
pictorial effect having been considered only so far as it was 
incidental to minute fidelity. Even now, twenty-three years 
after it was made, it is conceded that this drawing gives a 
better idea of the minute structure of the surface of the sun 
than is afforded by the best photographs. 

His paper on "The Minute Structure of the Solar Photo- 
sphere," published in February, 1874, may be taken as a type 
of his best work. 

" It possesses," writes Holden, " that hardly-definable qual- 
ity by which we become aware that it was written from a full 
mind. It is only fifteen pages long, yet we are not conscious 
of undue brevity. One has a sense in reading that every 
statement of fact, or every expression of opinion, is based 
upon a hundred single instances like the one which is chosen, 
or upon a hundred concurring judgments. It is not that you 
are overborne by weight, but convinced by character. This 
most important paper came at exactly the right time. It first 
summarizes the works of other recent observers which, though 
important, had left the subject in an entirely unsatisfying con- 
dition, and then proceeds straight to the subject in hand. 

" The minute details, both of the general solar surface and 
of the extraordinarily complex spots, are one by one satisfac- 
torily and lucidly described, with indications of the physical 
conditions to which they are due ; and, finally, the general 
bearings of all this on the received solar theories are briefly 
set forth. We may fairly say that this paper is fundamental. 
It treated of a subject of which little had been actually 
known, and it leaves this subject in a satisfactory and settled 

His detailed study of the distribution of the heat of the 
solar surface was begun in 1870, with the thermopile. It re- 
sulted in the discovery of the previously unknown thermo- 

2i6 The Smithsonian Institution 

chroic action in the solar atmosphere, by reason of which, 
owing to the difference in wave length, it transmits heat 
more readily than light. Two years later, in 1876, another 
discovery was announced as a result of his measures of the 
heat from various parts of the sun's disk; this was in regard 
to the direct effect of sun-spots on terrestrial climates. Fol- 
lowing up the observations made by Joseph Henry in 1845, 
Mr. Langley found that sun-spots exercise a direct influence 
on terrestrial climates by decreasing the mean temperature 
of the earth at their maximum. This decrease, however, he 
found to be so minute that it is doubtful whether it is directly 
observed or discriminated from other changes. Its whole 
effect is represented by the change in the mean temperature 
of our globe in eleven years, not exceeding three-tenths and 
not less than one-twentieth of one degree of the centigrade 
thermometer; but this refers merely to the direct action by 
the observation of the surface, and is not to be considered as 
the only one. 

His early work upon solar heat was done with the aid of the 
thermopile, an instrument which, though it had been effec- 
tively used for nearly fifty years in the study of radiant 
energy, was found by him not sufficiently sensitive and trust- 
worthy to be used for the more minute work which he found 
it desirable to undertake. It was equal to the task of meas- 
uring the radiation from different parts of the sun's disk. 
When, however, the heat from a given part had been spread 
out into a heat-spectrum, some new means of measuring the 
minute difference between the various parts was indispensa- 
ble ; and this was specially the case with the spectra formed 
by "gratings," now coming into general use, which, with the 
great advantage of distributing the energy in a " normal " 
spectrum, had the defect of giving extremely little heat for 

The Three Secretaries 217 

He, therefore, invented a new instrument, which he called 
the bolometer, — a thermometer of almost infinite tenuity and 
delicacy, which measured minute degrees of radiant heat with 
an accuracy unknown to the thermopile and greater than that 
of any photometric process, and which at the same time pos- 
sesses a sensitiveness to radiant energy only less than that of 
the eye, being able in its recent constructions to recognize 
variations of this energy corresponding to not over one- 
millionth part of a degree on an ordinary thermometer. 

This instrument was made in part at the cost of the Ameri- 
can Academy of Arts and Sciences, as administrators of the 
bequest of Count Rumford, and its completion was announced 
in the paper sent to the Society December 8, 1880, and read 
at its meeting of January 12, 1881. The years 1879 and 
1880 were devoted to elaborating and perfecting it.^ 

The action of the bolometer is based upon variation of 
electrical resistance produced by changes of temperature in a 
metallic conductor, such as a minute strip of platinum. This 
strip forms one arm of an electric balance, and the change in 
the strength of the electric current passing through it, be- 
cause of this change of resistance, is registered by a delicate 
galvanometer. Its sensitiveness is greater than that of the 
most delicate thermopile possible, and its accuracy of meas- 
urement has a corresponding advantage. One of the earliest 
results of the bolometer work was the demonstration experi- 
mentally that the maximum of heat in the normal spec- 
trum is in the orange, and not, as was formerly supposed, 
in the infra-red portion ; but a larger field opened for it in 
the exploration of the infra-red portion, whose existence 
was first suspected by the elder Herschel. The bolometer 
showed that this region contained three-quarters of the solar 
energy. Before the invention of the bolometer the distribu- 

1 "The Bolometer and Radiant Kncrgy." Proceedings of the American Academy of 
arts and sciences, 1880-81 ; Volume xvi, pages 342 to 358. 


2i8 The Smithsonian Institution 

tion of heat in the spectrum was so almost utterly unknown 
that the remark by Sir John Herschel that its heat was dis- 
continuous contained almost all our knowledge of the subject 
up to that time. 

At the time of which we speak, comparatively recent as it 
is, only a few advanced thinkers held the now universal view 
that heat and light were not two different things, but differ- 
ent effects of the same thing, and the investigations now 
commenced with the bolometer did much to prove the cor- 
rectness of the latter opinion. By continuous studies involv- 
ing great labor, and the record of extremely numerous 
experiments (over one thousand galvanometer readings being 
taken on the average to a single line), there was in the course 
of three years' patient work established the material for a map 
of the principal lines in this hitherto unknown region, and 
the material for a new method of study of the inter-action of 
the solar heat and our atmosphere, which latter was shown to 
be a principal agent in causing them. 

The bolometer has been made much more effective and 
has been still more recently reinforced by the holograph, in- 
troduced in 1 89 1 and lately perfected — a device for register- 
ing by photography the fluctuations of the needle, which thus 
permanently records the bolometer's indications, while by a 
further step these tracings are automatically converted into a 
linear spectrum by the use of a cylindrical mirror, a method 
of translation by which the fluctuations caused by the infra- 
red tract are reduced to a form comparable to that of the 
upper portion of the spectrum, as ordinarily visible. In the 
infra-red spectrum many hundred lines have since been lo- 
cated in this manner. 

With these instruments Mr. Langley has opened up a new 
department of physics. He has not only shown the existence 
of, but has measured the energy in, rays having a wave- 
length nearly twenty times that of extreme luminous ones. 

The Three Secretaries 219 

While the visible or photographic spectrum includes rays of 
only about an octave of vibration between the waves of 
violet and red, the full spectrum, from the ultra-violet rays 
to the longest of those measured by the bolometer, embraces 
between five and six octaves, and still more are indicated. 
In one sense these investigations have partly bridged over 
the gulf between the longest wave-length of heat and the 
shortest waves due to other causes. "This work," says 
Lockyer, " has done for the lower spectrum what that of 
Kirchhoff did for the upper rays." 

Father J. Van Geersdale, of Louvain, in an article on "The 
Infra-red Spectrum and the Bolometer," written in 1896, 
remarks : 

" Newton would be very greatly surprised if, coming back 
for a moment to this world, he should have placed before 
him a map of the spectrum as it is known to-day. Not only 
would he be astonished at the numberless rays which were 
unknown to him, but he would be still more taken aback if 
he saw the spectral image lengthened until it had assumed 
dimensions fifteen and twenty times as great as those which 
he gave to it. In his day, below the violet (X= 0,42), and 
above the red (X = 0,67), there was absolutely nothing. To- 
day the researches of Cornu, Mascart, Schumann, and others 
have expanded the limits of the ultra-violet to the neighbor- 
hood of A =0,1. In the other direction, the investigations 
undertaken by Mr. Langley in the infra-red region have 
resulted in an acquaintance with bands and rays the wave- 
length of which reaches to six microns and beyond. 

" Without depreciating the value of the researches which 
were made in the less refrangible portions of the spectrum 
previous to the discovery of the bolometer, it must be ad- 
mitted that they were of very slight moment if we now com- 
pare them with those which Mr. Langley has obtained by the 
aid of his marvelous little instrument." ^ 

l"Le Spectre Infra- Rouge et le Bolometre," Revue des Questions Scientifiques, 
Volume X, page 26, July, 1896, Louvain. 

2 20 The Smithsonian Institution 

Another result of these experiments was the establishment 
of the fact of selective absorption of the solar rays by the 
earth's atmosphere. In regard to this Mr. Langley wrote at 
the time : 

" Our observations at Allegheny had appeared to show 
that the atmosphere had acted with selective absorption to an 
unanticipated degree, keeping back an immense proportion 
of the blue and green, so that what was originally the strong- 
est had, when it got down to us, become the weakest of all, 
and what was originally weak had become relatively strong, 
the action of the atmosphere having been just the converse 
of that of an ordinary sieve, or like that of a sieve which 
should keep back small particles analogous to the short wave- 
lengths (the blue and green), and allow freely to pass the 
large ones (the dark-heat rays). It seemed from the obser- 
vations that the atmosphere had not merely kept back a part 
of the solar radiation, but had totally changed its composition 
in doing so — not by anything it had put in, but by the selec- 
tive way in which it had taken out, as if by a capricious in- 
telligence. The residue that had actually come down to us 
thus changed in proportion was what we know familiarly as 
'white' light, so that white is not 'the sum of all radiations,' 
as used to be taught, but resembles the pure original sun- 
light less than the electric beam which has come to us through 
reddish-colored glasses resembles the original brightness. 
With this visible heat was included the large amount of in- 
visible heat, and, if there was any law observable in this 
' capricious ' action of the atmosphere, it was found to be this, 
that throughout the whole range of the then known heat- 
spectrum the large wave-lengths passed with greater facility 
than the shorter ones." 

Most of these observations were carried on in Allegheny. 
In 1878, however, he made observations of the solar eclipse 
from the summit of Pike's Peak, at an elevation of fourteen 

The Three Secretaries 221 

thousand feet, and observed the extension of the corona to 
the hitherto unsuspected extent of nearly ten million miles. 

During the winter of 1878, in the course of a visit to Eu- 
rope, he spent some time upon Mount Etna, making obser- 
vations upon the character of astronomical vision, in order to 
enable comparisons to be made with observations taken under 
similar conditions in the territories of the United States. The 
station here was at Casa del Bosco, situated at the height of 
about 4,200 feet on the southeastern slope of the mountain. 
There he remained from Christmas until January 14. The 
conclusion reached was that though the ideal station where 
atmospheric tremor does not exist, and the observer pursues 
his studies in an ever transparent sky, is not to be found 
on any part of the earth's surface yet examined, there is in 
such stations as this and in the upper and elevated tablelands 
of Colorado and New Mexico every condition which experi- 
ence has shown to be favorable. 

In 1 88 1 Mr. Langley organized an expedition to the top of 
Mount Whitney, in California, for the purpose of applying 
his new methods and instruments under the most favorable 
conditions. Here he remained with his party from July 25 
until September 10, making observations at stations nearly 
fourteen thousand feet above the sea. The expenses of this 
expedition were borne in part by the United States Signal 
Service and in part by William Thaw, of Pittsburg, who had 
for some years taken great interest in the work of the Alle- 
gheny Observatory and to whose liberality and appreciation 
of scientific work many of Mr. Langley's greatest opportuni- 
ties for investigation were due. A report on the results of 
this expedition was published in 1884, as one of the profes- 
sional papers of the United States Signal Service. 

The Mount Whitney observations resulted, first, in the 
discovery of an entirely unsuspected extension of the solar 



The Smithsonian histittttion 

spectrum ; second, in a calculation of the relative intensity 
of the different rays of the sun before they have entered the 
earth's atmosphere, which was illustrated by an extra atmo- 
spheric curve in the spectrum ; third, in the indication that 
scarcely sixty per cent, of the solar rays penetrate to the 
earth's surface, the atmosphere as a whole exerting a power- 
ful selective absorption ; and finally, in a new and important 
estimate of the "solar constant." The effect of such absorp- 
tion on the visible rays is to throw out the shorter wave- 
lengths much more effectively than the longer ones, so that 
to an eye outside the earth's atmosphere the sun would ap- 
pear far bluer than to one within, and the estimated amount 
of heat before absorption is correspondingly measured. 

The total absorption of the heat rays was found to be sur- 
prisingly great. These experiments then demonstrate that a 
much greater amount of solar heat reaches the earth than 
had previously been supposed, sufficient, in fact, to melt each 
year an ice shell encrusting the earth to the thickness of 1 79 
feet, instead of 1 10 feet, as had before been believed. It was 
also found that the law of selective absorption modifies pro- 
foundly the terrestrial manifestations of the heat supplied by 
the sun, and that were there no such selective absorption, the 
temperature of the soil in the tropics under a vertical sun 
would probably not rise above freezing point. 

"The temperature of the earth's surface," he wrote, .... 
"and with it the existence not only of the human race, but of 
all organized life on the globe, appears in the light of the con- 
clusions reached by the Mount Whitney expedition to depend 
far less on the direct solar heat than on the hitherto little 
regarded quality of selective absorption in our atmosphere." 

The bearing of these observations on such questions as the 
temperature of the sun and the radiation from the sky is 

The Three Secretaries 223 

manifestly very important. The extent of the solar spectrum 
previously known was but a fraction of that discovered by 
this expedition.^ 

Mr. Langley's determination of the power of the sun's light 
and heat, as made at Pittsburg in 1878, is one based upon 
definite standards of comparison. He then demonstrated that 
the sun's disk radiates fifty-three hundred times as much 
light, and eighty-seven times as much heat, as would an equal 
area of metal in the converter of a Bessemer furnace in full 

Of Mr. Langley's numerous subsequent investigations with 
the bolometer, there can only be mentioned his researches on 
the temperature of the moon, which entirely changed the 
conclusions previously held from the statements of Sir John 
Herschel and the experiments of Lord Rosse, and his meas- 
ures of the amount of energy realized in the form of light by 
different natural and artificial methods of producing it. 

Extremely significant in this latter respect were his ob- 
servations made in Washington upon the spectrum of the 
firefly, PyropJiorus noctiluciis. He showed that its radiation 
consists wholly of visible radiations, or, in other words, that 
there exists in use a natural process by which all the heat 
generated is converted into light, a process probably imitable, 
and which if successfully imitated would be of immense indus- 
trial importance. In the gas flame only two per cent, of the 
heat is utilized in visible radiation and ninety-eight per cent, 
is wasted. 

Within comparatively few years Mr. Langley has taken up 
the study of the physics of the atmosphere and the conditions 
of artificial flight. This is a subject in which he has been in- 
terested from boyhood, though it was not until 1889 that he 

1 In this connection reference should be Allegheny Observatory, upon the influence of 
made to the work of J. E. Keeler, one of his absorption of certain rays in the visible spec- 
students, and his successor as director of the trum by the carbon dioxide of the atmosphere. 

2 24 The Smithsonian Institution 

began serious work. Many of these investigations have been 
carried on at the Smithsonian Institution, although some of 
the earHer elaborate experiments with the whirling table were 
carried on at the Allegheny Observatory. 


In 1 89 1 he published his now famous paper entitled "Experi- 
ments in Aerodynamics," in which he first made public the 
results of his studies upon this subject. This paper threw 
new light on the motion of certain forms of bodies through 
the atmosphere, and resulted in a practical revolution in the 
conclusions drawn from the study of aerodynamics. His 
paper on "The Internal Work of the Wind," presented to the 
International Conference on Aerial Navigation, held in Chi- 
cago, in 1893, made even a greater impression, especially 
upon the minds of those engaged practically upon the prob- 
lem of artificial flight. The importance of the views then 
for the first time advanced was universally admitted, as is 
evident from two recent authoritative general works on the 
subject of aerial navigation, those of Mr. Octave Chanute, of 
Chicago, and Doctor von Salverda, of Holland. In March, 
1894, Lieutenant- Colonel Elsdale, of the Royal Engineers, 
in an article in the Cotitempora^y Revieiv, wrote : 

" Professor Langley may fairly be said to have laid down, 
for the first time, a really sound and reliable scientific basis 
for the study of aerial locomotion, by a series of careful ex- 
periments and well-reasoned deductions from them. What- 
ever its ultimate measure of success is, new experiments with 
it cannot fail to advance the cause of aerial navigation another 

To a letter of inquiry in regard to the significance of these 
contributions to the science of aerodynamics, Mr. Octave 

The Three Secretaries 225 

Chanute, of Chicago, responded to the writer, April 10, 1896, 
as follows : 

" In my judgment the principal contributions thus far made 
by Doctor Langley to the science of Aerodynamics consist in 
his having given to physicists and searchers firm ground to 
stand upon concerning the fundamental and much-disputed 
question of air resistances and reaction. 

"When I was in Europe in 1889, I inquired into the state 
of knowledge on this important question, and found utter dis- 
agreement and confusion. There were numerous formulae, 
promoted by various physicists, but these gave such discor- 
dant results that arrangements were being proposed in France 
to try an entire set of new experiments, with air currents to 
be procured by an enormous fan -blower. A fair idea of the 
state of knowledge can be had from Professor Marey's careful 
work on " Le vol des oiseaux," published in 1890. Oblique 
pressures were then still generally held to vary according to 
the Newtonian law, or as the square of the sine of incidence, 
although this gives but five to ten per cent, of the true reac- 
tions at acute angles of incidence. 

" Doctor Langley has shown us, by experiment, the general 
accuracy of which cannot be questioned, that the empirical 
(based on experiments) formula of Duchemin is sufficiently 
correct to calculate the radiations upon planes; so that the 
French, who had ignored this formula since 1836, now claim 
its inception and accept it (as they do some wines) retour 
(T Amerique. Doctor Langley has also shown us that the va- 
riation of the center of pressure on an inclined plane, observed 
by Sir George Cayley and by Avanzani as well as by Kummer, 
follows approximately the law formulated by Jossel, so that 
now, for the first time, searchers are enabled to calculate the 
sustaining power, the resistance, and the center of pressure 
of a plane, with confidence that they are not far wrong; and 
this, together with the further law, formulated first by Doctor 
Langley, that within certain limits ' the higher speeds are 
more economical of power than the lower ones,' has made it 
possible to assert that the problem of artificial flight is not in- 

2 26 The Smithsonian Institution 

soluble as theretofore affirmed by many of the most eminent 
scientific men. 

"Whether Doctor Langley's scientific labors in this depart- 
ment of physics will soon result, like those of the preceding 
Secretaries, in the practical application of his discoveries to 
the use of mankind, it is perhaps too early to assert positively, 
I think, myself, that they will so result before many years, but 
there are so many intricate questions to be solved before com- 
mercial success can be achieved that another generation may 
pass before the problem of flight is fully solved. 

" Moreover, Doctor Langley's labors and discoveries are 
by no means over. He has thus far published only the 
result of his investigations on planes, while saying in 
the penultimate paragraph of his summary that it is not 
asserted that planes are the best forms to use. Lilienthal 
and Phillips have since shown that concave-convex surfaces 
are more efficient forms, and it is very much to be desired 
that Doctor Langley shall next publish some data concerning 
such forms. 

"The practical development of a scientific truth is some- 
what like the growth from a new seed. We recognize the 
existence of the plant, we ascertain some of its virtues, but 
we cannot tell its full uses, how soon it will mature, nor how 
large the tree will be. 

" It is significant, however, that, prior to the publication of 
Doctor Langley's work, it was the rare exception to find 
engineers and scientists of recognized ability who would fully 
admit the possibility of man being able to solve the twenty- 
century old problem of aviation. Professor Joseph Le Conte, 
in the Popular Science Monthly of November, 1888, has 
very recently taken the ground, flatly, ' that a pure flying 
machine is impossible.' This was probably based on the fact 
that the then accepted formula of Newton, and the calculation 
of Napier and other scientists, if correct, rendered the solution 
practically impossible. Since the publication of 'Experiments 
in Aerodynamics,' however, it is the exception to find an in- 
telligent engineer who disputes the probability of the eventual 
solution of the problem of man-flight. Such has been the 

The Three Secretaries 227 

change in five years. Incredulity has given way, interest 
has been aroused in the scientific question, a sound basis has 
been furnished for experiment, and practical results are being 
evolved by many workers. Much remains to be discovered 
concerning curved surfaces, with which alone practical flight 
is likely to be achieved, but when this is accomplished it is 
probable, in my judgment, that the beginning of the solution 
will be acknowledged to date back to the publication of Doctor 
Langley's book, and that he will be distinguished as Secretary 
Henry is now with regard to the development of electrical 

In the brief interval between the date of the letter just 
quoted and the sending of this sketch to the printer, an aero- 
drome, constructed by Mr. Langley, has made two successful 
flights, each to a distance of rather more than half a mile, 
practically demonstrating the correctness of the principles 
which it has been seen were generally accepted, on theoretical 
grounds, as soon as they were made public.^ 

1 A description of these flights, which took wheels ceased turning, and the machine, de- 
place on May 6, 1896, was communicated to prived of the aid of its propellers, to my sur- 
the Coviptes Rendus of the French Academy prise, did not fall, but settled down gently, 
of Sciences, by Professor Alexander Graham and without the least shock, and was imme- 
Bell, who was an eye witness, and an Eng- diately ready for another trial, 
lish translation of the same is contained in "In the second trial, which followed di- 
Natiire, Volume Liv, page 80. rectly, it repeated in nearly every respect the 

Professor Bell states that two ascensions actions of the first, except that the direction 

were made by the aerodrome which was built of its course was different. It ascended 

almostentirely of metal, and driven by a steam again in the face of the wind. I estimated 

engineofextraordinary lightness, the absolute that the actual length of flight on each occa- 

weight of the aerodrome, including the engine sion was slightly over three thousand feet, 

and all its appurtenances, being about twenty- It is at least safe to say that each exceeded 

five pounds, and the method of propulsion by half an English mile." 

aerial propellers, without any gas or other aid He continues : " I cannot but add that it 

for lifting it in the air, except its own internal seems to me that no one who was present on 

energy. this interesting occasion could have failed to 

"On the occasion referred to," says Pro- recognize that the practicability of mechanical 

fessor Bell, "the aerodrome, at a given sig- flight had been demonstrated." 

nal, started from a platform about twenty A third and still longer flight was made on 

feet above the water, and rose at first directly November 28, 1896, with another machine 

in the face of the wind, moving at all times built of steel like the first, and driven like 

with remarkable steadiness, and continually that by propellers actuated by a steam engine 

ascending until its steam was exhausted, of between one and two horse power, making 

when, at a height I judged to be between a horizontal flight of over three-quarters of a 

eighty and one hundred feet in the air, the mile, and descending in safety. 

2 28 The Smithsonian Institution 

The significance of these experiments is summed up by a 
recent writer as follows : 

" In both its matter and manner, Professor Langley's in- 
vention, or discovery, is of unique interest. His machine is 
built upon exactly the opposite principle from that upon 
which other flying machines have been built, and his inven- 
tion represents a clear triumph for pure inductive science. 

"When Stephenson built his locomotive he proceeded in 
his work upon certain definitely known facts ; that is, he was 
perfectly sure that if he could find a way to push his wheels 
around by steam, his engine could run over the ground just 
as an ordinary wagon would. He was venturing into no un- 
known field of physics. With Professor Langley it was just 
the opposite. Although men of science for two centuries or 
more have been studying the dynamics of the air, have 
weighed it and determined its compressibility, its action un- 
der heat, etc., yet up to the time Professor Langley took hold 
of the matter there existed no definite data as to the plan or 
principle upon which a flying machine, if it is to successfully 
navigate the air, must be built. To find out these new data 
was his first work. 

" Put in a less technical way, Professor Langley's problem 
was this : He says, ' Did you ever think what a physical mir- 
acle it is for such a bird as one of our common turkey buz- 
zards to fly in the way it does ? You may see them any day 
along the Potomac, floating in the air, with hardly a move- 
ment of their feathers. These birds weigh from five to ten 
pounds ; they are far heavier than the air they displace ; they 
are absolutely heavier than so many flatirons. 

" ' I fancy if you saw cannon-balls floating through the air 
like soap-bubbles you would look upon it as a sufficiently sur- 
prising matter, if not as a miracle. The only reason that we 
are not surprised at the soaring bird is that we have seen it 
from childhood. Perhaps if we had seen cannon-balls float- 
ing in the air from our childhood we would not stop to inquire 
how they did it, any more than we now do how the turkey 
buzzard does it. I am speaking now, of course, not of birds 

The Three Secretaries 229 

that fly by flapping their wings, but of those that fly without 
flapping their wings, and with almost no visible expenditure 
of force.' 

" It was from watching the soaring birds that Professor 
Langley came to conclude that it was possible to build solid 
models very much heavier than the air and drive and direct 
such a machine with such an ordinary force as steam. That 
is to say, he became convinced that there are certain shapes 
in which matter can be disposed so that the more rapidly it 
moves through the air, in a sense, the less power it takes to 
move it, and that a machine could be built to skim through 
the air very much as a skater skims along the surface of very 
thin ice — the faster you go the less danger. 

" Professor Langley believed that soaring birds have an in- 
tuitive knowledge of certain properties in the air by which 
they are able to skim along — rising and falling, soaring up 
and sailing down, and turning about in circles without any 
flapping of their wings or apparently any other effort. Just 
what these properties were he attempted to find out and de- 
velop by experiment. 

*' Well, the upshot of the matter was that from these experi- 
ments it was demonstrated that a machine, not a balloon, can 
be made which will produce enough mechanical power to 
support itself in the air and fly. 'Though,' Professor Lang- 
ley adds, ' this is not saying that we have got skill enough to 
manage this power so as to rise and fly about in the air and 
descend safely.' What is actually demonstrated, repeated 
hundreds of times in the laboratory, and, finally, with the suc- 
cessful machine which Professor Langley built, is that the fly- 
ing machine is possible. All that now remains is to perfect 
it and learn how to manaofe it. 

" The experiments which Professor Langley carried on re- 
sulted in showing that an expenditure of one horse-power, in 
horizontal flight, will support about 200 pounds, and at the 
same time carry this burden at a rate of fifty miles an hour 
through the air. Now, there have recently been built steam 
engines which, with fuel and water for a short flight, weigh a 
good deal less than twenty pounds. The relative weight of 

230 The Smithsonian Institution 

an engine decreases with the number of its horse-power, so 
that there seems no reason to doubt that what Professor 
Langley has done on a small scale may be done on a large 
one, and very shortly at that. 

" Professor Langley's machine measures but fourteen feet 
from tip to tip ; weighs, complete, twenty-four pounds, is sol- 
idly built of steel, and, compared with the air which supports 
it, has a weight of a thousand to one. It has no balloon 
arrangements of any sort, and instead of trying to build a 
vessel lighter than the air and filling it with gases to make 
it rise. Professor Langley has practically built a machine as 
heavy as he likes and relied upon its shape and power for 
successful flight. 

"This is just the opposite of what almost every other ex- 
perimenter in this field has tried to do, although it was appar- 
ent to every one that a flying machine, to be of any commer- 
cial or practical value whatever, would have to be heavy 
enough and powerful enough to drive straight against or 
across and in and out of the stoutest gale that blows. Other- 
wise it would forever be at the mercy of the element. What 
was necessary was a ship that would ride a storm in the air 
as a great ocean liner rides a storm at sea. 

" Professor Langley has been very careful to say that he 
never expressed his opinion that man could fly of his own 
strength. But he has demonstrated that powerful machines 
thousands of times as heavy as the air itself can be built to 
navigate the air." 


Concerning the administrative side of Secretary Langley's 
work during the past ten years, it seems scarcely necessary 
to speak at length in this place. The story told by this vol- 
ume, at the end of his first ten years of service, is ample evi- 
dence that the efficiency of the Smithsonian organization has 
not diminished while under his charge, and that the care of 
this, rather than of his scientific pursuits, has occupied the 

The Three Secretaries 231 

greater portion of his time and thought during the period 
of his incumbency. 

No one can ever make so strong an impression upon the 
character of an institution as he to whom the task of organizing 
it is intrusted. It is manifestly impossible that his successors 
should be able to modify materially the policy of an institu- 
tion which has been organized for a definite purpose and by 
the hands of a person whose judgment and ability they hold 
in respect. Their work, however, is none the less important 
in that it is conservative rather than entirely constructive. 
Their task is to maintain the efficiency of the organization 
and to keep it abreast of the times. They must be alert to 
appreciate the demands which arise from changed conditions 
and secure the means for a growth which shall not only be 
constant but symmetrical. 

The history of the Institution bears evidence that it has 
been under the constant control of men of unusual ability, 
energy, and personal influence. No boards of trustees, or 
regents, no succession of officers serving out their terms in 
rotation, could possibly have developed from a chaos of con- 
flicting opinions a strongly individualized establishment like 
the Smithsonian Institution. 

The names of the first two Secretaries are so thoroughly 
identified with the history of the Institution, by reason of their 
constant connection with it during its first four decades, that 
their biographies together could form almost a complete his- 
tory of its operations. The period during which the third 
Secretary has served is of comparatively less length, yet of 
great importance from the fact that he has done so much to 
render permanent the work which his predecessors began. 

Each of the three, in addition to his general administrative 
work, has made some features of the general plan peculiarly 
his own. Secretary Henry gave especial attention to the 

232 The Smithsonian Institution 

publications, the system of international exchanges, and the 
development of that great system of meteorological obser- 
vations, the storm predictions, which has since become the 
Weather Bureau. 

Secretary Baird continued the development of the Museum, 
which had been under his special charge during the twenty- 
seven years of his service as Assistant Secretary, secured the 
erection of the Museum building, gave much attention to 
zoological and ethnological exploration, and, in connection 
with his special work as Commissioner of Fisheries, secured 
the construction of the exploring ship Albatross, and car- 
ried on extensive investigations in American waters. In ad- 
dition to his Smithsonian work he will always be remembered 
as one of the greatest of naturalists, the founder of the United 
States Fish Commission and of " public fish-culture." the administration of Secretary Langley there has 
been renewed activity in the library and exchange work, and 
a new system has been introduced for the encouragement of 
original research in physical and biological science. During 
his administration important donations and bequests have 
been added to the permanent fund of the Institution. The 
limit of one million dollars which may by law be deposited in 
the United States Treasury, at six per cent., has nearly been 
reached, and Congress has recognized the authority of the 
Institution to receive and administer other funds beyond this 
limit, thus making it possible for it to undertake the adminis- 
tration of financial trusts for any purpose within the scope of 
its general plan. 

Secretary Langley will always be remembered as the 
founder of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and 
of the National Zoological Park, in which his assiduous per- 
sonal labor was largely instrumental in securing to the nation 
the most picturesque, and up to this time the largest, tract of 

The Three Secretaries 233 

land in the world devoted to such uses. His contributions to 
science during his Secretaryship will also always be asso- 
ciated with his career at the Smithsonian, though they have 
been necessarily subordinated to administrative duties which 
are the principal occupation of the Secretary. 


Mr. Langley's contributions to science have been numerous. 
They have been published in the transactions ot various 
learned societies and in the scientific journals, especially the 
Coinptes Rcndits of the French Academy of Sciences and 
the American Journal of Science. 

He published a series of articles in The Century Ma- 
gazine in 1884 and 1886 upon astrophysical research, based 
upon a series of lectures delivered by him at the Lowell In- 
stitute in Boston in 1883. These articles have since been re- 
published under the title of "The New Astronomy," which is 
one of the most successful of modern scientific books written 
in popular style. 

Mr. Langley is a correspondent of the French Institute (in 
the Academy of Sciences), a foreign member of the Royal So- 
ciety of London, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society 
of London, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, 
and of numerous other foreig"n and American scientific bodies. 
In 1878 he was made Vice-President of Section A of the 
American Association for the Advancement of Science, and 
in 1886 was elected President of that association, delivering 
the presidential address at the Cleveland meeting in 1888, en- 
titled the "History of a Doctrine." He has received numer- 
ous degrees from universities, among them that of LL. D. 
from the University of Wisconsin in 1882, the University of 
Michigan in 1883, from Harvard University in 1886, and 


2 34 The Smithsonian Institution 

Princeton University in 1896; and in 1894 that of D. C. L. 
from the University of Oxford. He was the first to receive, in 
1886, the Henry Draper medal of the National Academy of 
Sciences for work in astronomical physics. In 1887 he w^as 
awarded the Rumford medal by the Royal Society of London, 
and the Rumford gold and silver medals by the American 
Academy of Arts and Sciences. It seems especially fit that 
the American who has in this century been most eminent as 
a student of the laws of heat should thus come into posses- 
sion of the two memorials, American and English, of the 
great American who in the last century made such important 
contributions to the same branch of science. 

More than all these formal honors, by far, is the world- 
wide recognition of his achievements in the formulation of 
the principles of aerodynamics and the discovery of so much 
of the solar spectrum. 


By Samuel Pierpont Langley 

^'HE original bequest of James Smithson, to- 
gether with the accrued interest and savings, 
constituted a fund of over seven hundred thou- 
sand dollars. The sum now placed to the credit 
of the Smithsonian deposit in the Treasury of 
the United States, together with some securities undeposited, 
lacks but little of a million, about one quarter of a million of 
dollars having been added to the original fund in the past 
five years. 

The addition has been made by several benefactors who 
have recognized, as years go on, the ever-increasing ability 
of the Institution to act as trustee for the funds whose grivers 
have aims in consonance with those of the founder. 

I shall briefly sketch the biography of these men who have 
given of their means to promote the usefulness of the Smith- 
sonian Institution, and who have expressed their confidence 
in the policy and permanency of the Institution by making it 
their trustee in carrying out their design for the increase and 
diffusion of knowledge among men. Before passing to these, 
however, the fact should be recalled that the earliest addition 

to the Smithson fund came from the first Secretary, Joseph 


236 The SniitJisonian Institution 

Henry. In the year 1847 Professor Henry was invited to 
deliver a course of lectures in Princeton, the college of whose 
faculty he had been a member prior to his acceptance of the 
chief executive office of the newly-founded Institution. Prince- 
ton University, — or the College of New Jersey, as it was 
then known, — paid him for this course of lectures an honora- 
rium of $1000, which Professor Henry placed to the credit of 
the Board of Regents. 


In 1874 a bequest of $1000 was received from the estate of 
James Hamilton, " the interest to be appropriated biennially 
by the Secretaries, either in money or a medal, for such con- 
tribution, paper, or lecture on any scientific or useful subject 
as said Secretaries may direct." 

Mr. Hamilton was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Octo- 
ber 16, 1793, and died there January 23, 1873. He was 
graduated from Dickinson College in 181 2, and was ad- 
mitted to the Bar in 18 16. For a few years he followed 
the practice of his profession, and then retired to devote 
himself to the more congenial pursuits of science and litera- 
ture. He was a close student of astronomy, botany, and 
mineralogy, and his interest also extended to education, for 
he was a trustee of Dickinson College in 1824-33, and was 
almost continuously a school director in Carlisle from the 
inception of the school system there in 1836, till his death. 
His philanthropy and public spirit showed itself in many 
ways. Not only was he one of the organizers and trustees 
of the Presbyterian Church, but he was also active in its 
work as well. His .charities were numerous and his will 
included more than a thousand items of benefaction. 

In 1879 a bequest of $402.59 was received from Doctor 
Simeon Habel. This sum was increased from the income 



236 77/. Institution 

^ xofessor Henry was 

:ii Princeton, the c" e 

-: niber prior to his acceptance o 

. he newly-founded Institution. Prince- 
New Jersey, as it was 

tt i Ji a 1 "%_, ■ 

■J, Wl. 


quest , joo was received fr A 

jam '^"'^ *' Hie interest \.., ...^ appro^^.x^x,. 

/ or a m^ ^ ' r i ^^j^_ 

r use 


1 1 



!i 10 1 or a tew years -^wed 

profession, and tiien retire vote 

nimself to the more congenial pursuits ence and li 

-^ -" close stud""^ of astronomy, buLci 
ana his interest aiso extender' 

ckinson Cc 1824-3;-' was 

\ director in C e 


In 1879 a beque- : • ■ ivca n-om '' )r 

, H<t54.(iaM,sa^I30aOH ainj.on, the income 


The Benefactors 237 

of the Institution to $500, and placed to the credit of the 
Smithsonian fund. 

Doctor Habel was of Austrian birth and was grad- 
uated at the University of Vienna in 1846. He came to 
America and undertook an extended tour throucrh Central 
and South America. Before doing this he spent several 
months at the Institution familiarizing himself with the work 
of the Geological Department. In 1877 he prepared a me- 
moir for the Institution entitled "The Sculptures of Santa 
Lucia Cosumalwhuapa, in Guatemala, with an account of 
Travels in Central America and on the Western Coast of 
South America," which was published in the "Smithsonian 
Contributions to Knowledge." 

In 1889 a bequest of $5000 was received from Doctor 
Kidder, to be used for the promotion of physical research. 

Doctor Jerome Henry Kidder was born in Baltimore 
County, Maryland, on October 26, 1842, and was graduated in 
1862 at Harvard University, where he is still remembered as 
foremost in the gymnasium as well as on his class-rolls. He 
immediately tendered his services for the Civil War, and was 
placed in charge of the sea-island plantations near Beaufort, 
South Carolina, where he contracted yellow fever, and was 
sent home early in 1863 ; but upon recovery he enlisted in the 
Tenth Maryland Infantry, in which he served as private and 
non-commissioned officer until the following year, when he 
was selected to be medical cadet, and in that capacity was 
employed in the military hospitals near the capital. During 
this time he was prosecuting the study of medicine, and in 
1866 received from the University of Maryland the degree of 
M. D. In the same year he was commissioned an assistant 
surgeon in the United States Navy, becoming full surgeon in 
the month of May, 1876. 

238 The Smithsoniaji Institution 

Doctor Kidder's first duty was in Philadelphia. After a 
year he went to Japan, where he quickly acquired the lan- 
guage of the country, and in other ways established the repu- 
tation which attached to him throughout his career for his 
"capacity for taking pains." While on this foreign service 
he was decorated by the King of Portugal in recognition of 
services to a distressed vessel of his Majesty's navy. 

Doctor Kidder took part in observing the transit of Venus 
at Kerguelen Island, in 1874, as surgeon and naturalist of the 
expedition, and the excellent results of his scientific labors 
and researches therewith were described in bulletins of the 
United States National Museum. After the return of this 
expedition. Doctor Kidder arranged his specimens and col- 
lections in the Smithsonian Institution, and began those 
kindly and intimate relations with it which continued through 
the remainder of his life. 

In 1878 Doctor Kidder married, in Constantinople, Annie 
Mary, daughter of the Honorable Horace Maynard, Minister 
of the United States to Turkey, and in 1884, having inherited 
an adequate fortune, he resigned his commission and estab- 
lished his home in Washington, and organized the bacterio- 
logical laboratory in connection with the Navy Museum of 
Hygiene, and also made a sanitary survey of the site pro- 
posed for the Naval Observatory. Later he was appointed 
chemist of the United States Fish Commission, and in that 
capacity became one of the most trusted advisers of Pro- 
fessor Baird. His laboratory was in the Smithsonian build- 
ing; and, under the direction of the Secretary of the In- 
stitution he made, at the request of Congress, an exhaustive 
study of the ventilation of the Capitol and of the air in the 
Senate chambers and the hall of the House, and submitted an 
extended report for the use of the committees engaged upon 
the sanitary reform of the building. In 1887, after the death 

The Benefactors 239 

of Commissioner Baird, he served for a time as Assistant Com- 
missioner of Fisheries, under Commissioner Goode. While 
connected with tlie Fish Commission he carried on a suc- 
cessful series of experiments to solve the problems relative 
to the temperature of living fishes, which have been made 
public through the reports of the Fish Commission. Besides 
the reports just referred to. Doctor Kidder contributed valu- 
able papers to various professional and educational publica- 
tions, and held for years a place on the literary staff of the 
New York Woi'ld, and maintained membership in many 
learned societies. He was one of the founders of the Cosmos 
Club, one of the organizers of the Harvard Club in Washing- 
ton, and a prominent member in the Masonic fraternity. 

In 1888 Doctor Kidder accepted the appointment of 
curator of laboratory and exchanges ; and the writer cannot 
speak in too warm terms of the character of Doctor Kidder 
as shown in their business relations. His liberal educa- 
tion and views, served by the " capacity for taking pains " 
already referred to, were all under the control of the most 
conscientious regard for duty, and made him a valued admin- 
istrator of the department under his charge. He knew how 
to maintain, together with exact order, the kindliest relations 
with all employed in it, who, it is safe to say, remember him 
with an affection and regard due to his excellent personal 
qualities, a feeling which the writer profoundly shares. Just 
in his best work, in his fullest physical vigor. Doctor Kidder 
was stricken with pneumonia, and died after a brief illness in 
Washington on April 8, 1889. 

He was a man most worthy of trust in every relation of life, 
and deeply mourned by those who enjoyed his friendship. 

In 1 89 1 Alexander Graham Bell presented to me $5000 to 
aid in scientific researches I was carrying on, which sum was, 

240 The Smithsonimi Institution 

with his consent, placed under the general charge of the In- 
stitution, where it has been employed for objects cognate with 
those contemplated by the donor. 

The present brief notice of Doctor Bell would have been a 
fuller one were it not that a reluctance to be the object of 
public notice has made it difficult to find the necessary facts 
for the biographer. 

We know of his life little more than that he was born in 
Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 3, 1847; that he is under- 
stood to have been educated in London and Edinburgh; that 
in 1870 he removed to Canada, and that in 1872 he settled 
in Boston, where he introduced the system of visible speech 
invented by his father, which was especially for the benefit 
of the deaf and dumb, and where he became professor of 
vocal physiology in the Boston University. 

At this time the transmission of sound by electricity at- 
tracted his attention, and he made the invention which 
brought him his present great and deserved fame. It was at 
the Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876 that 
the telephone was first exhibited. It attracted the immediate 
notice of Sir William Thomson (now Lord Kelvin), and 
other eminent electricians, and almost at once it engrossed 
the attention of the public, and the news of the discovery 
spread over the civilized world. 

Doctor Bell's scientific work was by no means confined to 
the telephone, although it is in connection with that invention 
that his name is best known. He has added various devices 
connected with the transmission of speech by electricity, among 
which is that described by Antoine Breguet in the Coviptcs 
Rendus of the French Academy of Sciences of 1880.^ 

Doctor Bell, among other rewards of his invention of the 
telephone, received the Volta prize of fifty thousand francs 

1 Volume xci, pages 595 and 652. 

The Benefactors 241 

from the Institute of France in 1880, and with this and con- 
siderable additions, he founded in 1883 the Volta Bureau, and 
erected a building in Georgetown, where it is installed. It 
includes a library and facilities for investigations into the 
condition of the deaf and dumb, in which subject Doctor 
Bell has always continued to take a deep interest. 

In his adopted country, Doctor Bell's contributions to 
science have been recognized by an election, in 1883, to the 
National Academy of Sciences, and the recent conferment 
of the degree of LL.D., while the decoration of the Legion 
of Honor has been received by him from the French gov- 

In 1 89 1 Thomas George Hodgkins gave $200,000 to the 
Smithsonian Institution, stipulating that while that sum should 
be included with the original Smithson Foundation, the in- 
come of one-half of it should be devoted to researches and 
investigations on atmospheric air in connection with the wel- 
fare of man. Subsequent to his death an additional sum of 
nearly $50,000 was received by the Institution from his es- 
tate, making the total gift one of about a quarter of a million 

Mr. Hodgkins was born in London, England, in 1803, 
and died in Setauket, Long Island, on November 25, 1892. 
His ancestors were clergymen, and belonged to the class of 
English gentlemen, but his father, who was in reduced cir- 
cumstances, was unable to keep him at Eton or Harrow, 
and sent him to France, where he remained for his educa- 
tion until he was about fifteen years old. During this time 
his language, habits, and manners, became rather French 
than Enorlish. 

He returned to England; but troubles with a stepmother 
made his home unbearable, and, against the urgent entreaty 

242 The Smithsonian Listitittion 

of his father, he shipped before the mast in a trading vessel 
bound for Calcutta. The vessel was wrecked near the mouth 
of the Hoogly, and young Hodgkins found himself penniless 
and friendless in Calcutta, where he was taken ill and carried 
to the hospital. He has since said that it was here, while 
he was a sick lad, and was told that he had not six months 
to live, that he made up his mind that he would live, that he 
would acquire a fortune, and that he would devote it to large 
and philanthropic ends. 

He recovered sufficiently to prepare a petition to the Gov- 
ernor-General of India, who was then the Marquis of Hast- 
ings, asking for aid to return to England ; and he walked a 
long distance into the country, where the Governor-General 
was staying at his country-seat, to deliver it. He arrived at 
the viceregal residence barefooted and ill-clad, and asked 
an audience with the ruler of India with such persistence that 
the attendants, who at first refused, finally consented to pre- 
sent his petition. This so impressed the Viceroy when he 
read it that he directed that the young sailor should be ad- 
mitted to see him, and the interview that followed ended by 
his offering young Hodgkins a position in his household 
which any gentleman's son might have been willing to ac- 
cept, but which he refused from his overmastering wish to 
return to his father. 

I think this curious adventure (as it may almost be called) 
deserves narration as an instance both of the remarkable force 
of Mr. Hodgkins's character and of the evidence of gentle 
breeding his manners always bore, and of the influence both 
had on others even in his earliest years. 

After going home he went to Spain ; later, returning to 
England, he married, and in 1830 came to this country. He 
immediately engaged in business, which he pursued with un- 
remitting energy for thirty years, when he retired on what was 

The Benefactor's 243 

at that time considered a handsome fortune. The fifteen 
years following this he spent in traveling over Europe and 
America, and finally in 1875 he settled down in Setauket, 
Long Island, upon his place " Brambletye F"arm," which he 
rarely left, except for an occasional visit to New York City, 
until his death. 

Mr. Hodgkins was a man of remarkably self-poised mind, 
singularly independent in his modes of thought, and indepen- 
dent also of the need of social converse or of adventitious 
interests. His opinions were his own, and he found in the 
reading which confirmed them and in the care of his little 
farm abundant and agreeable occupation for the leisure of 
his declining years. 

He was a man of keen intelligence, and by nature, perhaps, 
still more a thinker and a scholar than a man of affairs, though 
even in the latter capacity his ability was proven by his suc- 
cess in business. He possessed a strong will, and had delib- 
erately formed and tenaciously held opinions of his own in 
relation to religious and philosophical questions. In regard 
to the former, it may be sufficient to say that his mind was 
of a devout cast, and that while he had thought much for him- 
self, he retained to the last an absolute trust in the divine 
guidance as the leadinor motive of his life. 

Mr. Hodgkins had for more than thirty years made a spe- 
cial study of the atmosphere in its relations to the well-being 
of humanity. He believed that most of the physical evils to 
which mankind are subject arise from the vitiation of the air 
which they breathe, and that the study of the atmosphere is 
not unimportant even with relation to man's moral and spirit- 
ual, as well as his physical health ; and though he did not 
point out any line of investigation likely to bear fruit in the 
latter direction, it was his hope that the concentration of 
thought upon the atmosphere and its study from every point 

244 The SmitJisonian Instittttion 

of view would in time lead to results which would justify his 
almost devout interest in the subject. 

He was very explicit in his statements that it was not 
for sanitary science or for meteorology, or for the like 
branches of study alone, or for those which might seem most 
obviously suggested by the words of his trust, to profit ex- 
clusively by it, for he believed that every department of 
philosophy (using the term in its widest sense) would be 
found to be finally connected with every other, through this 
common bond of union ; so that it was his particular desire 
to have such varied investigations in the atmosphere made as 
would aid in the enlargement of each and all of these aspects 
of knowledge. 

Mr. Hodgkins brought to all his studies, as to this, a very 
retentive memory, while general reading and travel had 
stored his mind with singularly varied information. He was 
a good French scholar and loved to quote from the French 
classics. His catholicity of mind was sufficient to include a 
not inconsiderable sense of humor, and his favorite quotation 
from Boileau pointed to his consciousness of a perhaps too 
imagfinative indulo^ence in his favorite themes. He was a 
punctilious correspondent, and what it is not too much to call 
his real literary ability was never shown more happily than in 
his letters, which were in many respects models of epistolary 
ease, and even of charm of diction. He was hospitable and 
enjoyed entertaining the few friends whom he admitted to his 
table, where his manner, as a host of the old school, was a 
happy one. 

Mr, Hodgkins had no family and no known blood relations, 
and, recognizing the difficulties which often arise over the 
settlements of large estates, he chose to be his own executor 
rather than leave the disposition of his affairs to those who 
might either misinterpret or disregard his requests when he 
could no longer appear as a witness in his own behalf. He, 

The Benefactors 245 

therefore, gave away his entire estate, amounting to about 
half a milHon dollars, to various public institutions. 

His funeral was unostentatious, as he requested it should 
be, only his intimate friends attending. Among these I was 
numbered ; for while I felt it an official duty to represent this 
Institution at the funeral of one to whom it owed so much, I 
was there also from a feeling of real friendship and regard to 
an old man whose singular powers, whose lonely life, and 
whose — perhaps often unmet — affection had drawn me to 
him as to a personal friend.^ 

In 1894 a bequest was received from Robert Stanton Avery, 
consisting of almost all of his small estate, to establish "the 
fund constituted by Robert S. Avery and his wife Lydia T. 
Avery for the extension of the sciences." 

Robert Stanton Avery was born near Preston, Connecti- 
cut, May I, 1808; and died in Washington City, September 
12, 1894. After spending nearly fifteen years in teaching 
and studying, he entered Harvard Divinity School and was 
graduated in 1846. Failing health prevented his acceptance 
of a pastoral charge, and while settling up his father's estate 
he began the study of the mathematics and their application to 

1 The Secretary of the Smithsonian Insti- in her left hand, and in her right a scroll em- 

tution issued a circular on March 31, 1893, blematic of knowledge and the words "Per 

announcing a series of prizes for contribu- Orbe/n" while the reverse is adapted from the 

tions to knowledge in regard to the nature seal of the Institution as designed by Augus- 

or properties of atmospheric air. The same tus St. Gaudens, the map of the world being 

circular announced the establishment of a replaced by the words "Hodgkins Medal." 

meiial to be known as " The Hodgkins Medal No impression of the Hodgkins medal in 

of the Smithsonian Institution," to be awarded gold has as yet been awarded, but four im- 

"for important contributions to our know- pressions in silver and eight in bronze were 

ledge of the nature and properties of atmo- awarded to successful competitors for the 

spheric air or for practical applications of our Hodgkins prizes. In future the medal will 

existing knowledge of them to the welfare be awarded from time to time as some grand 

of mankind." The medal itself — the ob- scientific discovery is made that is worthy of 

verse and reverse of which are shown in the such recognition. The medals were struck 

accompanying illustration — was designed by at the French Mint in Paris, and are seven 

Monsieur J. C. Chaplain, of Paris, a member and a half centimeters in diameter (about 

of tlie French Academy and one of the most three inches), and the gold medal was to 

eminent medalists in the world. It bears on have had a bullion value of $240 to $300. 
its obverse a female figure carrying a torch 

246 The Sniithsonian Institution 

the physical sciences. In 1853 he received an appointment 
in the Coast Survey, and was assigned to the reduction and 
compilation of tide-tables, becoming after several promotions 
chief of the tidal division of the Survey, which place he held 
until 1885, when he resigned. Subsequently he devoted him- 
self to the preparation of school-books designed to extend the 
teaching and use of phonetic spelling. 

Mr. Avery's property lay chiefly in real estate in Wash- 
ington, which has still to be disposed of, and his bequest has 
not yet become effective. He has indicated a wish that it may 
be employed partly in researches connected with the ether, 
as well as in the printing of some mathematical tables. 


By George Brown Goode 

«-■ ^v^ 

^^HAT the Smithsonian Institution, before it 

could begin active operations, must have a 

|;^|\0\ home of its own would doubtless have been 
^=^^ regarded as a necessity by any one consider- 
''^^^^^^^^^^ ing the requirements of the future. Richard 
Rush, however, appears to have been the first to state this 
idea in words, which he did in a letter addressed November 
6, 1838, to the Secretary of State, in response to a request 
of the President for suggestions in regard to the proper 
manner of carrying out the bequest. 

In the bill prepared by John Ouincy Adams, and presented 
February 18, 1839, it was provided that the observatory, 
which was to be the first of the Smithsonian buildings, 
should be erected, under the direction of the Secretary of the 
Treasury, upon land belonging to the United States, which, 
after its selection, should be granted for the purpose and con- 
veyed as a deed of gift to the trustees of the Smithsonian 
fund. In those days the locality known as Camp Hill, near 
the banks of the Potomac, opposite Analostan Island, near 
the mouth of Rock Creek, seems to have been under consid- 


248 TJie Smithsonian Institution 

eration. This site was the one which was designated by 
Washington for the National University, and reserved for that 
purpose upon the original plan of the city. It was subse- 
quently used for the purpose Mr. Adams had in mind, 
namely, as the site of the United States Naval Observatory, 
a building for which was erected upon it in 1843-44, and 
occupied until 1893, when a group of finer structures were 
built upon Georgetown Heights. 

In another bill, introduced by Lewis F, Linn into the Sen- 
ate February 10, 1841, the whole of the tract known as the 
Mall was appropriated for the uses of the Smithsonian Insti- 
tution, with the provision that the buildings should be 
erected in accordance with the plans prepared by and under 
the supervision of the National Institution, to be approved by 
the President of the United States. 

In bills introduced into the Senate in June and December, 
1844, by the Library committee, — Rufus Choate, Benjamin 
Tappan, and James McP. Berrien, — appeared the first defi- 
nite characterization of the building, which was to be plain 
and durable, without unnecessary ornament, and to contain 
provisions for cabinets of natural history and geology, and 
for a library, a chemical laboratory, and lecture-rooms. This 
building was to be placed upon a site to be selected in that 
portion of the Mall lying west of Seventh Street. The cost 
was at that time limited to eighty thousand dollars. In 1846, 
however, the bill of Doctor Robert Dale Owen, without 
change of phraseology from those which had preceded it 
in re2"ard to location and character of the structure, was 
adopted, but the limit of the cost was increased, and $242,- 
129, the exact amount of the Smithsonian interest which had 
at that time accrued, " together with any additional interest 
which might remain after paying the current expenses of the 
succeeding years," was designated for that purpose. 

Building and Grounds 249 

After the present site had been selected, there appears to 
have been some dissatisfaction in regard to it ; nor is this to 
be wondered at, since at that time the Mall was remote from 
the inhabited portion of the city, being a part of what was 
then known as "The Island," now called South Washington. 
This portion of the city was cut off by an old and unsightly 
canal, running to the Potomac, and crossed by simple wooden 
bridges at four points between the Capitol and the Potomac 
River. It was unfenced and waste, occupied from time to 
time by military encampments and by traveling showmen. 
After the completion of the east wing in 1850, when the first 
lectures were held in the Institution, the Regents were 
obliged to build plank walks for the accommodation of visit- 
ors. Indeed, with the exception of the Capitol grounds and 
those surrounding the Executive Mansion, the open places in 
the city were entirely unimproved. 

Soon after the selection of the present site, the question 
was reconsidered by the Board, and a committee appointed 
to obtain, if possible, another location. In the bill as it finally 
passed Congress, permission had been given to locate the 
building on the space between the Patent Office and Seventh 
Street, now occupied by the building used for the offices of 
the Interior Department. This was partly to enable the Insti- 
tution to utilize for its collections the large hall in the Patent 
Office then assigned to the " National Cabinet of Curiosi- 
ties," partly, no doubt, to secure a more central location. To 
obtain this ground, however, it was necessary to have the 
approval of the President of the United States and other 
public officials, which was not found practicable. The Com- 
mittee fixed upon Judiciary Square, an open space of rough 
ground, in which at that time the City Hall (a portion of 
the present structure), the Infirmary, and the City Jail 
were located. Though the adjoining streets were entirely 

250 The Smithsonian Institution 

vacant, this site was regarded as much more accessible 
than the Mall. 

A proposition was submitted to the Common Council of 
the City of Washington, that the site of the City Hall should 
be resigned for the use of the Smithsonian Institution upon 
its offering to pay to the city $50,000, a sum deemed suffi- 
cient to erect a building for the use of the city government 
upon the site south of Pennsylvania Avenue, between Sev- 
enth and Ninth streets, now occupied by the Center Market. 
A bill was introduced into Congress, authorizing the Regents 
to purchase the City Hall, but the Common Council refused 
to consider the proposition, and the site of the Mall was 

From the very beginning Doctor Owen was the chief ad- 
vocate of a large and showy building. In this matter he was 
supported by the sympathy of the people of Washington, 
and especially Mr. William W. Seaton, Mayor of the city and 
one of the Regents, whose interest in the realization of the 
plan of Smithson undoubtedly did much at last to secure 
action from Congress. Outside of Washington, there was 
much opposition to an expensive building, owing partly to 
the manner in which the bequest of Stephen Girard had 
been rendered for many years inoperative by the action of its 

Doctor Owen himself was earnest in his denunciation of 
such abuses. " Of the noble Girard fund," said he, "three 
quarters of a million of dollars are lost forever, and though 
half a generation has passed away since the eccentric Phila- 
delphian died, not one child has yet reaped the benefit of his 
munificent bequest. A temple has, indeed, arisen that out- 
shines Greece and her Parthenon ; its sumptuous Corinthian 
pillars, each one costing a sum that would have endowed a 
professorship, are the admiration of beholders and the boast 

Building and Grounds 251 

of the Quaker City ; but years must yet elapse before the 
first son of indigence can ascend the steps of that princely 
portico and sit down within those marble halls to receive the 
education for which its simple and unostentatious founder 
sought to provide." 

Doctor Owen, nevertheless, more than any other person at 
that time concerned in the establishment of the Institution, 
seems to have felt that much of its future success depended 
upon the erection of a building which should perform a legit- 
imate duty in dignifying and making conspicuous the work 
of the organization to which it belonged. Scarcely any one 
can doubt that Doctor Owen was rio^ht and that the useful- 
ness of the Smithsonian Institution has been materially aided 
by the fact that its building has for fifty years been one of the 
chief architectural ornaments of the national capital. 

The first act of the Regents, after appointing the commit- 
tees on organization and library, was to instruct the Chancel- 
lor, Secretary, and Executive committee to obtain plans for 
the erection of buildings. Doctor Owen, Mr. Hough, and 
General Totten, on behalf of this committee, visited several 
of the principal cities, examined their prominent public build- 
ings, and conferred with several architects. At a meeting 
on November 30, 1846, they reported that out of thirteen 
plans submitted to them they had unanimously selected two, 
by Mr. James Renwick, Jr., of New York City, one in the 
decorative Gothic style, the other in Norman, or Lombard ; 
the latter was recommended as being simpler and less ornate.^ 

The style of architecture of the preferred plan is that of 

1 Both of these plans are shown in per- and show the structure as it was before the 

spective in Owen's " Hints on PubHc Archi- reconstruction of the east wing, 

lecture," the Gothic design facing page 99, The battleniented cornices were not pro- 

Ihe Norman, pages 104 and io8. The draw- vided for in tlie first plans, but were an after- 

ings of the accepted plan already possess thought, it having been found by experience 

some antiquarian interest, since they were that too much of the roof was visible from 

lithographed from drawings by the architect, the city. 

252 The Smithsonian Institution 

the last half of the twelfth century ; the latest variety of the 
rounded style, as it is found immediately anterior to the 
merging of that manner in the early Gothic. In the general 
design and most of the details the architect adhered to the 
period to which this style is referable. The general feeling, 
however, which permeates the design, especially in the upper 
towers, is that of a somewhat later era, when all lingering 
reminiscences of the post and lintel manner had been dis- 
carded and the ruling principles of arch architecture were 
recognized and carried out. The semicircular arch stilted is 
employed throughout, in doors, windows, and other open- 
ings. The windows are without elaborately traceried heads. 
The buttresses are not a prominent feature and have no sur- 
mounting pinnacles. The weather-moldings consist of cor- 
bel courses, with bold projection. The towers are of various 
shapes and sizes ; and the main entrance from the north, 
sheltered by carriage porch, is between two of unequal 

The design originally consisted of the main center build- 
ing, two stories high, and two wings, of a single story, con- 
nected by intervening ranges, each of these latter having, on 
the north, or principal front, a cloister, with open stone 

The extreme length of the building, from east to west, is 
447 feet. Its greatest breadth, across the center of the main 
building and towers, and including the carriage porch, is 
i6o feet. The east wing is 82 by 52 feet; the west wing, 
including its projecting apse, is 84 by 40 feet, and 38 feet 
high ; and each of the connecting ranges is 60 by 49 feet. 
The main building is 205 by 57 feet, and, to the top of its 
corbel course, 58 feet high. 

1 The east wing has since been entirely disappeared, whde in the west connecting 
rebuilt, and the connecting range being now range it has been inclosed to form a ]iart of 
four stories high, the cloister at this end has the Iniilding. 

Building and Grounds 253 

The main building has in the center of its north front two 
towers, of which the higher reaches an elevation of 145 feet. 
On its south front it has a single massive tower, 2)1 ^^^t 
square, including buttresses, and 91 feet high. On its north- 
east corner stands a double campanile, 1 7 feet square, and 
measuring to the top of its finial 1 17 feet high. At its south- 
west corner is an octagonal tower finished with open-work 
in its upper portion ; and at its southwest and northwest 
corners are two smaller towers. There are nine towers in 
all, including a small one at each wing. 

In concluding his description of the plan given in " Hints 
on Public Architecture," Doctor Owen writes : 

"I am not acquainted with any actual example yet remain- 
ing from what has been variously called the Lombard, the 
Norman, the Romanesque, and the Byzantine school, with 
which the Smithsonian building will not favorably compare. 
In so far as the architect has permitted himself to innovate 
upon ancient precedents from the style in which he designed, 
he has done so, in my judgment, with discretion and advan- 
tage. ... I esteem myself fortunate in being able in this 
book to refer to an actual example, at our seat of govern- 
ment, the architect of which seems to me to have struck into 
the right road, to have made a step in advance, and to have 
given us in his design not a little of what may be fitting and 
appropriate in any manner (should the genius of our country 
hereafter work out such) that shall deserve to be named as a 
National Style of Architecture for America." 

In compliance with the requirements of the organizing law, 
the building contained provision for objects of natural history 
and a geological and mineralogical cabinet, a chemical labo- 
ratory and library, and gallery of art, and lecture-rooms. 

A building committee of three was appointed, consisting of 
Doctor Robert Dale Owen, wdio acted as chairman, Mayor 

2 54 The Smithsonian Institution 

William W. Seaton, and General J. G. Totten/ This com- 
mittee, having been empowered to enter into contracts for the 
completion of the building, began its sessions February 1 7, 
1847, and within thirty days had decided upon the materials 
to be used, and awarded the contract for building. 

It was at first intended that the plan should be executed 
in white marble. The quarries at Cockeysville, Maryland, 
whence was procured the stone used in building the Wash- 
ington Monument, were carefully examined with this in view. 
Other quarries and materials were also considered, and about 
twenty- five different samples were tested with reference to 
their weathering qualities by Professor Charles G. Page. 
Doctor David Dale Owen, of Indiana, was invited to Wash- 
ington to make surveys of the marble quarries in Baltimore 
County, and the sandstone quarries in Montgomery County, 
Maryland. Doctor Owen reported that the brown freestone 
obtained in the neighborhood of Seneca Creek, on the Poto- 
mac river, about twenty-one and a half miles from Washing- 
ton, was of great beauty and durability, and he strongly re- 
commended its use. This was found to be attended with so 
much economy that it was finally decided upon ; the offer 
of the lowest bidder for construction having been $205,250 
for the building in Seneca ashlar, while white marble ashlar 
would have cost $23,000 more. 

The journal of the building committee for the year shows 
that between February 17 and November 26 it held forty-one 
meetings. Its transactions are reported with great minute- 
ness in the appendix to the second report of the Board of 
Regents of the Smithsonian Institution,' and also in the vol- 

1 During General Totten's absence in Mex- Smithsonian Institution, January 6, 1848; 
ico in the early part of the year, his place ThirtiethCongress, First Session, Senate Mis- 
upon the committee was taken by Mr. Wil- cellaneous Document, No. 23. The report of 
liam J. Hough. the building Committee is contained in tliis 

2 Report of the Board of Regents of the volume and forms pages 4-156. This report 

Building and G7'ottnds 255 

lime entitled " Hints on Public Architecture," which was pre- 
pared by Doctor Owen, with the assistance of Mr. Renwick, 
and was one of the earliest oublications of the Institution. 

The actual location of the building" was determined March 
20, 1847, t)y a resolution of the committee that it should be 
placed "upon the center of the lot, or site, of the said Institu- 
tion, from north to south, and upon the center of Tenth Street." 

On May i, 1847, the corner-stone of the building was laid 
with imposing- ceremonies. The event was made the occasion 
of a public holiday. A procession was formed at City Hall, 
under the direction of William Beverly Randolph, Marshal-in- 
Chief The procession, which was more than a mile in length, 
was composed of the militia of the District of Columbia, the 
various local Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons, together 
with delegations of Masons from Baltimore, the District of 
Columbia, and Alexandria, and marched to tlie music of three 
military bands. The column moved along F Street to the 
Executive Mansion, where the President and his cabinet, the 
heads of Departments and the Diplomatic Corps were re- 
ceived in line. It then proceeded by the way of Pennsylvania 
Avenue and Twelfth Street to the site of the building. A 
platform was erected on the south side of the site, and to this 
the high officials, the Regents of the Institution, the Mayor 
and Corporation of Washington, and other guests were es- 
corted. The Masonic bodies then passed up to the corner- 
stone, which was laid by the Grand Master of the District of 
Columbia, Mr. Benjamin B. French, accompanied by Colonel 
James Page and Mr. Charles Gilman, Grand Masters of 
Pennsylvania and Maryland. Mr. French held in his hand 
the gavel used by President Washington in laying the corner- 
stone of the Capitol of the United States, and wore the Ma- 
is not included in the first five reports of the " nals of the Board of Regents, Reports ol 
Institution, issued in iS52,and but few copies Committee," etc., by William J. Rhees, Wash, 
are in existence. It is reprinted in '• Jouin- ington, 1879, pages 597-695. 

256 The Smithsonian Institution 

sonic apron presented to Washington by tlie Grand Lodge 
of France through General Lafayette, also worn by Wash- 
ington on the earlier occasion. A prayer was offered up 
by Grand Chaplain Mcjilton, of the Grand Lodge of 

An address was delivered by Chancellor Dallas and a 
national salute was fired by the Columbia artillery, while the 
band played a national air. Benediction was then pro- 
nounced by the Reverend French S. Evans, "and thus," 
writes a witness, "were concluded the ceremonies of the 
day, which were witnessed by at least six or seven thousand 

Although the time estimated as necessary for the comple- 
tion of the building was five years, considerable progress had 
been made before the end of 1847. The work was carried 
on under the superintendence of James Renwick, Jr., the 
architect, and of Robert Mills, assistant architect. 

In April, 1849, the east wing of the building was ready for 
occupation by the Secretary and his staff, and before the 
end of the year the west wing was also completed and was 
being temporarily fitted for occupation by the library. 

During the year 1850 the work continued on the interior 
of the center building, but as the committee had adopted a 
resolution, "directing the interior of the center building to 
be constructed in fire-proof, and that the time be extended 
until the accumulating interest would be sufficient to meet 
the additional expense," the completion of the building pro- 
ceeded very slowly. As far as the employment of fire-proof 
material was concerned, the committee wisely argued that 
the additional cost would be repaid by the permanence of the 

1 Second Annual Report, pages 132-143, Smithsonian Institution, May I, 1847," by 

where the address of the Chancellor is given. George M. Dallas, Chancellor of the Institu- 

It was reprinted as "Address delivered on tion. Washington: Printed at office of Blair 

occasion of Laying the Cornerstone of the & Rives. 1847, October. Pages 1-8. 

BMilding and Grounds 257 

building-, and the perfect security that would be afforded to 
the valuable collection that would be preserved in that por- 
tion of the building". It was hoped that the towers would 
be finished and roofed in during the winter, but this unfor- 
tunately proved impossible. 

The construction of the interior of the main building was 
continued during 1852, and the materials used were fire- 

It was during this year that the contract between the 
Board of Regents and the builder was declared completed by 
the architect. This included the finishing of the exterior of 
the entire building, the interior of the exterior wings and 
connecting ranges, and the interior of the towers, leaving 
the whole interior of the main building to be finished. This 
covered a space 200 feet long by 50 feet wide and about 60 
feet hieh, to be divided into a basement and two stories. The 
valuable services of Mr. Renwick were discontinued, and 
Captain Barton S. Alexander, of the United States Engineer 
Corps, was detailed to take charge of the construction. Cap- 
tain Alexander promptly prepared plans for the completion 
of the work. The consideration of these and the procuring 
of estimates required some time, so that the new work did 
not begin until June 13, 1853. 

In the Report for 1853 the building committee reported that 
the roof had been temporarily secured, the wooden frame- 
work which had occupied the interior of the building re- 
moved, and that an excavation had been made for a cellar. 
It was further reported that the foundation walls, piers, and 
arches of a large basement had been completed ; piers built 
in the main story, and, in fact, about nine-tenths of the brick- 
work finished as well, leaving as unfinished work the neces- 
sary stairways for lecture-room and gallery, the supporting 
of the roof in such a manner as to do away with the columns 

258 The Sinithsonian Institution 

in the second story, flooring, plastering-, and painting to com- 
plete the interior finish, and providing seats for the lecture- 

According to the Report of the committee for 1855, it would 
appear that early in the year the edifice was completed, and 
the final report of the architect approved by the committee. 

As various changes were made in the original plan, the 
following brief description of interior arrangements will not 
be inappropriate. The interior of the east wing was sepa- 
rated into two stories, the upper of which was divided into a 
suite of rooms for the accommodation of the family of the 
Secretary ; the lower story comprised principally a large 
single room, appropriated to the storage of publications and 
the reception and distribution of books connected with the 
system of exchange. The upper story of the eastern con- 
necting range was divided into a number of small apartments 
devoted to the operations in natural history, and the lower 
story was fitted up as a working laboratory. 

The interior of the main edifice, 200 feet long by 50 feet 
wide, consists of two stories and a basement. The upper 
story was divided into a lecture-room capable of holding two 
thousand persons; and into two additional rooms, one on 
either side, each 50 feet square, one of which was appropri- 
ated to a museum of apparatus, and the other at that time to a 
gallery of art. Both were occasionally used as minor lecture- 
rooms and for the meetings of scientific, educational, or in- 
dustrial associations. The lower story of the main building 
consisted of one large hall for a museum or a library. It 
was unoccupied at first, but was used, as the means were 
provided for furnishing it, with proper cases for the exhibi- 
tion of natural history and other collections. The basement 
of this portion of the building was used as a lumber-room 
and as a receptacle for fuel. 


258 . ...stituti'-^'^ 

tering, and painting t- 
iMM providing seats for the Ic^*:' 

nittee for 1855, it 
ice was compi 
t of t hv the commi 

original '^^ 
fo ments w 

ate. oi the east wing was sepa- 

into two stories, the upper of which was divided in 
'^or the accommodation of ^he fami- , 

^■"^' i.^ed principally a ictigc 

iblications - 

), and the lo\vti 
ce, 200 feet long by 50 
ement. The u] 
'tnrv was divided into a lecture-room capable of holding 

"•"^ persoiia, cind into two additional rooms, one ui; 
50 feet square, one of which was appro- 
ad the other at that time 

minor lecture- 



rinn of Thr basen: 

M tills )er-ro^ji.i 

■ IS 


6Titd::mrrf"m:t7iOHnTTM8 ariT 

Building mid Grounds 259 

The west wing was occupied as a library and was suffi- 
ciently large to accommodate all the books that were received 
during the ten years following its completion. 

The principal towers were divided into stories, and thus 
furnished a large number of rooms of different sizes, which 
came in time into use in the varied operations of the Institu- 
tion. A large room in the main south tower was appro- 
priated to the meetings of the Establishment and the Board 
of Regents ; three rooms in one range, in the main front 
towers, were used as offices ; and two rooms below, in the 
same towers, were used for drawing, engraving, and work- 
shops. There were in the whole building, of all sizes, ninety 
different apartments, of which eight were of a large size, and 
were intended for public exhibitions. 

In order that the principal of the Smithsonian fund should 
not be encroached upon for building purposes, it was neces- 
sary, as has been shown, to proceed slowly, and this proved 
of further advantage, for, to quote Secretary Henry: 

"The delay in finishing the building has not only been 
attended with advantao-e in husbandino- the funds, but also 
in allowing a more complete adaptation of the interior to 
the purposes of the Institution. It is surely better, in the 
construction of such an edifice, to imitate the example of 
the mollusk, who, in fashioning his shell, adapts it to the 
form and dimensions of his body, rather than that of an- 
other animal who forces himself into a house intended for 
a different occupant. The first point to be settled, in com- 
mencing a building, is the uses to which it is to be applied. 
This, however, could not be definitely ascertained at the 
beginning of the Institution, and hence the next wisest step 
to that of not commencing to build immediately was to 
defer the completion of the structure until the plan of 
operations and the wants of the Establishment were more 
precisely known," 

26o The Smith soman Institution 

In 1857 the building committee reported that the object for 
which they had been appointed might be considered accom- 
pHshed, although a large portion of the interior of the edifice 
was still unfinished. Thereafter the building was carried on 
very slowly, and for some time only a very few workmen were 
employed on its construction. 

The expenses for furnishing the interior, including the 
alcoves and galleries for books in the library, as well as the 
cases for the specimens in the museum, were defrayed by a 
special appropriation from Congress. The building com- 
mittee was continued in charge of such matters, although no 
formal report was made between 1857 and 1866. 

On January 4, 1865, a fire occurred in the Smithsonian 
building which destroyed the roof and all of the interior of the 
upper story of the main portion of the edifice, the interior of 
the two large north towers and also of the large south tower. 
Fortunately, the loss to the Institution was not very great, 
although the burning of the roof of the main building caused 
the destruction of the contents of the second-story rooms 
immediately beneath it, and also those of the three principal 
towers adjacent. Besides the official correspondence and other 
papers, and the duplicate copies of published documents, the 
personal effects of Smithson, including numerous manuscripts 
written by himself, were almost entirely destroyed. The 
apparatus presented by Doctor Robert Hare, the lens used 
by Priestley in the evolution of oxygen, and many other pieces 
of apparatus in the collection were seriously damaged, but not 
sufficiently to prevent their restoration. The most important 
loss was the destruction of a large collection of paintings be- 
longing to Mr. J. M. Stanley, but as these were his personal 
property and not insured, the loss fell on him. 

The first steps toward the reconstruction of the building 
was to secure the services of a competent person as architect 

Building and Grounds 261 

and engineer to prepare the plans and superintend the work. 
F'or this purpose Mr. Adolph Cluss was employed, under 
the direction of a building committee consisting of Richard 
Delaficld, Richard Wallach, and Joseph Henry. He made a 
critical survey of the building to ascertain the actual state of 
the walls and to determine what parts it was necessary first 
to repair. This survey revealed the fact that the original con- 
struction was defective, and in many respects the building was 
unsuited as a repository for records and other valuable arti- 
cles. In consequence it was determined to not only restore 
the ravages made by the fire, but also to rebuild the defective 
parts so as to render the building thoroughly fire-proof and 
entirely stable both as regards material and mode of construc- 
tion. The expense of this reconstruction was estimated to 
be about $150,000, and the building operations were con- 
tinued until 1867, during the summer of which year the 
building was again ready for occupancy. 

Since that date changes have been made from time to 
time in accordance with the requirements of the Institution. 
Of these perhaps the most important have been the transfer 
of the executive offices to the east wing of the building, for- 
merly occupied by Secretary Henry as his private residence, 
and the reconstruction of this wing and the connecting range 
in 1884, whereby more commodious quarters were secured. 

In 1880-81 the growth of the museum compelled the 
erection of an annex building, to contain the overflow of the 
collections; and an appropriation of $250,000 was made by 
Congress and a simple structure of brick, iron, and glass was 
built close to the Smithsonian building, upon the southeast. 
This building is entirely devoid of architectural pretensions, 
and does not require many words of description. It should 
be stated, however, that the object of the building committee 
having it in charge was to obtain the largest possible amount 

262 The Smithsonian Institution 

of space with the very limited appropriation. The plan was 
designed by General Montgomery C. Meigs, U. S. A., well 
known as an engineer and as the superintendent of the ex- 
tension of the United States Capitol, aided by Adolph Cluss, 
by whom the plans were drawn and the structure superin- 
tended. The building is 300 feet square and one story in 
height, with pavilions three stories high at each corner, and 
in the center of each side. In addition to the seventeen ex- 
hibition halls, there are in the pavilion 160 rooms for offices 
and workshops. The amount of floor space available for 
exhibition purposes is 90,000 feet, the cost for each square 
foot having been less than $2.50. Notwithstanding the ex- 
treme economy of the structure, which has cost less than 
25 per cent, as much for the accommodation afforded as any 
other permanent building ever erected, it was completed for 
less than the amount of the appropriation, and a small balance 
recovered into the treasury. The floors are laid directly 
upon the earth, and the building is absolutely without base- 
ment rooms. There is thus no opportunity for work rooms 
and store rooms, which is a most serious defect. In other 
respects, however, as the experience of 15 years has demon- 
strated, the building is admirably suited for its purposes, and 
has been much more useful than many far more pretentious 
and costly structures. 

In 1890 a small structure for an astrophysical observatory 
was erected on the grounds immediately south of the Smith- 
sonian building and a description of it, together with the 
ground plan showing the location of the principal instruments, 
is given in the chapter on the Astrophysical Observatory. 

The grounds were first laid out under the directions of the 
Regents in 1849, and planted with trees and shrubs, com- 
prising about one hundred and fifty species, chiefly Amer- 
ican, and were inclosed in a hedge of Pyrocanthus, Osage 

Building and Grounds 263 

Orange, and Cherokee Rose, and ornamental gateways gave 
access to the grounds from the adjoining streets. 

The original planting was soon replaced, however, by a 
more elaborate system, designed by Andrew J. Downing, 
who was invited by President Fillmore to lay out the entire 
Mall, from the Capitol to the river. This plan is the one 
still in use, although the untimely death of its designer inter- 
fered with its proper execution, since many trees planted for 
temporary purposes were allowed to remain, and to injure 
or destroy more hardy species, intended to be permanent in 
the final effect. The conception was, however, one of the 
most successful of all ever carried out by Mr. Downing, and 
has done much to perpetuate his fame as the earliest and one 
of the greatest of American landscape gardeners. His mem- 
ory is honored by a monument in the form of a marble vase^ 
which stands in these (grounds northeast of the Smithsonian 
building. It is about 200 feet east of the Smithsonian Insti- 
tution and about 640 feet north. 

A bronze statue of Professor Henry, by William W. Story, 
was ordered by provision of Congress enacted in 1880, and 
was erected in the Smithsonian grounds about one hundred 
and fifty feet to the northwest of the building. The statue 
was unveiled on April 19, 1883, at the time of the annual 
meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, on which oc- 
casion a brief address by Chief Justice Waite was delivered, 
in which he said, "llie statue which will now be unveiled has 

1 The design for this memorial was made On the base of the pedestal are the follow- 

by Calvert Vaux, who for many years was ing words : 
Mr. Downing's associate in business. Its "THT9 AfFMORT\T 

execution was by Robert Launitz, a well- ,,, . j j i »• j . 

•' ' Was erected under a resolution passed at 

known sculptor. On the front side of the t>i -i a ^ ^ • 

" rhiladelphia, 

monument is the following inscription : . ^ . .o,, i .1 

^ ^ in Sept., I052, by the 

" This vase American Pomological Society, 

Was erected by his Friends of which Mr. Downing was one of the 

IN MEMORY OF Original founders." 

Andrew Jackson Downing, 

Who died July 28, 1852, aged 37 years." 


The Smithsonimi Institution 

been erected by the United States as a token of gratitude for 
the labors of his useful life, and for his faithful administration 
of the important public trust so long in his keeping." 

Subsequent to the unveiling an oration was delivered by 
President Noah Porter, of Yale College.^ 

1 A full report of the proceedings is given in the Smithsonian Report, 1883, page 17. 


By Cyrus Adler 

world institution ; its funds are held in trust 
by the government of the United States for 
the benefit of all men ; its influence, spread 
''52£:2^^^^^5^ as it is throughout the world, cannot be 
readily seen, nor counted, nor measured. In spite of the 
evidences of its work in the promotion of science, through 
the publications, the Museum, the Bureau of Exchanges, the 
Bureau of Ethnology, the Astrophysical Observatory, and 
its other well-known agencies, no one acquainted with its in- 
ner working can doubt that all of these put together represent 
but a fractional part of its share in the intellectual activities 
of the world. Of no department is this statement so true as 
of the library. 

The idea of the formation of the library may be said to be 
contemporaneous with the first announcement of the Smith - 
son bequest, and to antedate the establishment of the Institu- 
tion itself In all the discussions in Conofress relatinsf to the 
utilization of the bequest, the idea of a library played a promi- 
nent part. In the Twenty-sixth Congress (1839-41) a bill 
was introduced " to provide for the disposal and manage- 

18 ==^5 

266 The Smithsonian Institution 

ment of the fund bequeathed by James Smithson to the 
United States." This bill would have appropriated the larger 
part of the sum for the establishment of an astronomical ob- 
servatory, but even with this as the main purpose, it included 
the following items : 

"For the library, one year, $30,000; $10,000 for the first 
supply; $20,000 for a fund for an income of $1,200 a year, 
for a constant supply of new works and periodical publications 
upon science in other parts of the world, or in America." 

Senator Choate, of Massachusetts, strongly advocated the 
use of a large part of the fund for library purposes. In a 
speech delivered on January 8, 1845, ^^ said: 

"We cannot do a safer, surer, more unexceptionable thing 
with the income, or with a portion of the income — perhaps 
twenty thousand dollars a year for a few years — than to 
expend it in accumulating a grand and noble public library 
— one which, for variety, extent, and wealth, shall be, and 
be confessed to be, equal to any now in the world." 

At the conclusion of his speech, Mr. Choate moved to 
amend the bill under consideration by the insertion of the 
following clause : 

"And whereas, an ample and well-selected public library 
constitutes one of the permanent, constant, and effectual 
means of increasing and diffusing knowledge among men ; 
therefore, be it further enacted that a sum not less than 
$20,000 be annually expended, of the interest of the fund 
aforesaid, in the purchase of books and manuscripts for the 
formation of a library of the institution aforesaid, which, for 
its extent, variety, and value, shall be worthy of the donor of 
the said fund, and of this nation, and of the age." 

On January 9, 1845, ^^ debate in the Senate was resumed. 

The Smithsonian Library 267 

The first section of the bill contained the followino- clause : 


" Provided, That the books to be purchased for said institu- 
tion shall consist of works on science and the arts, especially- 
such as relate to the ordinary business of life, and to the 
various mechanical and other improvements and discoveries 
which may be made." 

Mr. Choate moved to strike out this proviso "to avoid a 
premature decision on the point at issue as to the plan of 
a general library, or a special one limited to works on physi- 
cal science." 

Senator Tappan, of Ohio, opposed the motion. " He 
argued that a library limited to the works on sciences and 
the arts, specified in the proviso, would be the only suitable 
and appropriate library for the institution." 

Senator Pearce, of Maryland, agreed with Mr. Choate and 
desired that the Institution should become a "complete na- 
tional library." 

Mr. Choate's resolution to strike out the provision finally 

Mr. Choate next moved to strike out the eighth section, 
and to substitute the amendment given above. 

Senator Crittenden, of Kentucky, moved to add a proviso 
limiting the classes of books which might be purchased. 

" Mr. Choate argfued that this limitation was not onlv un- 
necessary, but would most certainly prove injurious. It was 
unnecessary, because no national library, such as he contem- 
plated, and such as he hoped the Senate would authorize, 
could be made complete without every one of the works on 
science and the arts which the Senators for Ohio and Ken- 
tucky could possibly desire." 

Senator Rives, of Virginia, thought "if we were to have a 
library at all to carry out this great object, it really seemed 

268 The Smithsonian Institution 

to him that the Hbrary ought to be coextensive with the 
Hmits of human knowledge." 

Senator Niles, of Connecticut, " did not think it came 
within the purpose of the donation to establish a great na- 
tional library. If the donor thought that the best way of 
increasing and diffusing knowledge among men, he would 
have enjoined the establishment of such a library." 

Mr. Tappan moved an amendment to add "$91,862 out 
of the interest due, to the original fund, so that the invest- 
ment should be $600,000." 

" Mr. Choate objected to this as, in effect, cutting off the 
means for establishing a national library." 

The amendment was rejected. 

The bill was recommitted to the Committee on Library, 
which on January 21, 1845, reported a new bill. It provided 
for a building "for the reception of an extensive library, equal 
to the first-class libraries in the world." 

"An annual expenditure of not less than $20,000 out of 
the interest of the fund is authorized to be made in the pur- 
chase of books and manuscripts for the library of the institu- 
tion, which library is to comprehend in due proportion, with- 
out preference or exclusion of any branch of knowledge, 
works pertaining to all the departments of human knowledge, 
as well as physical science, and the application of science to 
the arts of life, as all other sciences, philosophy, history, 
literature, and art ; and for its extent, variety, and value, said 
library shall be worthy of the donor of the fund, and of this 
nation and the age. The managers to employ a librarian 
and assistants, and to fix their salaries ; also to prescribe the 
regulations under which the library shall be kept, visited and 

Senator Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, said he "had arrived 
at the conclusion that the best mode of distributinof this fund 
was by the purchase of a great library." 

The Sinithsonian Library 269 

It will thus be seen that Senator Choate, who believed 
most strongly in the establishment of a great library in the 
United States, was a determined advocate of employing the 
Smithson bequest in this manner. He actually succeeded in 
having adopted by the Senate of the United States, on Jan- 
uary 23, 1845, the bill concerning the provision of which the 
foregoing is a discussion, — in effect, to devote the greater part 
of the income arising from the bequest to the establishment of 
a library. This bill failed of passage in the House, and was 
referred to in later debates as "the library plan." 

The leading spirits in the Senate would have devoted the 
larger part of the fund to a library. The members of the 
House interested in the matter were opposed to this plan. 
Mr. Robert Dale Owen, of Indiana, in a debate on April 22, 
1846, after reviewing the discussion in the Senate, introduced 
a bill which allowed an expenditure of $10,000 a year for books. 
He argued against the attempt to make a general library. 
He asserted that Smithson's tastes were scientific, and not 
antiquarian, and that had he desired to found a great librar)- 
he would have said so. Mr. Ingersoll and some other mem- 
bers of the House agreed with Mr. Owen in his objection to 
the establishment of a great library, while Mr. Stanton, of 
Ohio, thought "that the annual appropriation of $10,000 for 
the gradual formation of a library might have been limited 
to a smaller amount." "The library plan," however, had 
friends as well as opponents in the House. Mr. George P. 
Marsh, of Vermont, on April 23, 1846, in speaking of the pro- 
vision for the annual expenditure of $10,000 a year for the 
library, said: "I consider this the most valuable feature of 
the plan, though I think the amount unwisely restricted." 
And he proceeded to argue at great length in favor of a 
general library. He also moved several amendments, all 
with a view, as he said, to direct the appropriations entirely 

270 The Smithsonian Institntion 

to the purposes of a library. Mr. Owen argued, in reply, that 
a library might diffuse knowledge, but would not increase it. 
One of the ideas which was broached during these discus- 
sions was that the library should be peripatetic. 

The Act which finally passed establishing the Smithsonian 
Institution was in effect a compromise between the views 
urged in the Senate and in the House ; for whereas a library 
was mentioned as but one of the objects of the Institution, 
yet Section 8 of this Act expressly provides for a library in 
the following terms : 

"The said Regents shall make, from the interest of the 
said fund, an appropriation, not exceeding an average of 
twenty-five thousand dollars annually, for the gradual forma- 
tion of a library, composed of valuable works pertaining to 
all departments of human knowledge." 

At the second meeting of the Board of Regents, held on 
September 8, 1846, a committee of three, appointed to digest 
a plan, reported a scheme which was adopted by the Board on 
January 25, 1847. 

This report practically recommended that half of the income 
be set aside for a library and museum, and that the Smith- 
sonian Institution become a center of bibliographical informa- 
tion for the entire country. The report fully expresses the 
aim of the Institution with regard to its own library, and 
the other libraries of the country. It begins with a state- 
ment that the proposition that the building about to be 
erected should contain library room sufficient to receive 
one hundred thousand volumes was made rather in the spirit 
of the charter and against the deliberate conviction of the 
committee, and then proceeds as follows : 

" But, without a vast accumulation of books in this metrop- 
olis, your committee conceive that the Librarian of the 

The Smithsonian Library 271 

Smithsonian Institution may, under a proper system, become 
a centre of literary and bibliographical reference for our en- 
tire country. Your committee recommend that the librarian 
be instructed to procure catalogues, written or printed, of all 
important public libraries in the United States, and also, in 
proportion as they can be obtained, printed catalogues of the 
principal libraries in Europe, and the more important works 
on bibliography. With these beside him, he may be consulted 
by the scholar, the student, the author, the historian, from 
every section of the Union, and will be prepared to inform 
them whether any works they may desire to examine are to 
be found in the United States, and, if so, in what library ; or, 
if in Europe only, in what country of Europe they must be 
sought. Informed by these catalogues, it will be easy, and 
your committee think desirable, for those who may be charged 
with the selection of books, to make the Smithsonian Library 
chiefly a supplemental one ; to purchase, for the most part, 
valuable works, which are not to be found elsewhere in the 
Union ; thus carrying out the principle to which your com- 
mittee has already alluded as influencing all their recommen- 
dations, that it is expedient, as far as may be, to occupy 
untenanted ground. 

"Exceptions to this rule must here, of course, be made; as 
in the case of standard works of reference required for the 
immediate purposes of the institution, and also of the very 
numerous works, many of current science, which, by a proper 
system of exchanges, we may procure without purchase. In 
this latter connection, the Transactions and Reports of the 
institution will obtain for us valuable returns." 

In all the early discussions of the Board of Regents the 
library received the fullest consideration. Indeed, one of the 
first definite acts of that body was a resolution passed at its 
third meeting, September 9, 1846: 

" That the Secretary be requested, without unnecessary de- 
lay, to collect, on behalf of the institution, all the documents. 

272 The Smithsonian Instihition 

Congressional and others, connected with the history of the 
Smithsonian bequest, and of its legislation, and cause them 
to be substantially bound, as a commencement of its library." 

In a letter written by Professor Charles C. Jewett to Pro- 
fessor Henry, the former proposed that the library should 
consist of three classes of books ; first, those which may be 
immediately needed in the scientific department; second, the 
bibliographical works and descriptions, histories, and cata- 
logues of similar institutions; third, a general collection con- 
sisting of memoirs, transactions, and journals of the learned 
societies of Europe and America. " These three classes of 
books," he says, "will form a library quite unique, and one 
of great utility." There were other details of Professor 
Jewett's plan which will be referred to later. 

These various ideas were reduced to form in the program 
of organization presented to the Board of Regents by Profes- 
sor Henry on December 8, 1847, the following portions of 
which relate to the library. 

" To carry out the plan before described, a library will be 
required, consisting, ist, of a complete collection of the trans- 
actions and proceedings of all the learned societies in the 
world ; 2d, of the more important current periodical publica- 
tions, and other works necessary in preparing the periodical 

" With reference to the collection of books, other than those 
mentioned above, catalogues of all the different libraries in 
the United States should be procured, in order that the valu- 
able books first purchased maybe such as are not to be found 
in the United States. 

"Also catalogues of memoirs, and of books in foreign libra- 
ries, and other materials, should be collected for rendering 
the institution a centre of bibliographical knowledge, whence 
the student may be directed to any work which he may 

7 he Smithsonian Library 273 

Professor Henry submitted this plan of organization in 
advance to a number of learned societies and individuals 
throughout the country for their criticism ; and among the re- 
plies the following, from the American Academy of Arts and 
Sciences at Boston, is of unusual interest. This reply was 
signed by Edward Everett, Jared Sparks, Benjamin Pierce, 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Asa Gray. It stated: 

"A library is one of the objects contemplated in the act of 
Congress establishing the Board for the management of the 
trust. It is requisite for carrying out the plan above proposed. 
At the same time it will be observed that the distribution by 
exchange of the publications, which that scheme of operations 
will call into existence, will rapidly provide the Institution, 
without farther expense, with the class of works, often of a 
costly character, which are most directly important as the 
means of advancing and diffusing positive knowledge. It is 
accordingly in these that the Secretary proposes to lay the 
foundations of the library; forming, ist, a complete collection 
of the Transactions and Proceedings of all the learned socie- 
ties in the world; and, 2d, a similar collection of all the current 
periodical publications, and other works necessary in prepar- 
ing the contemplated periodical reports. . . . Such a library 
as the plan proposes may be fairly regarded as an impor- 
tant instrument for the increase and diffusion of knowledofe." 

It will thus be seen that, with very slight dissent, all the 
persons concerned in the early conduct of the Institution, — 
the members of Congress, the Regents, Professor Henry, and 
Professor Jewett, — concurred in the idea that the library 
should be, first, a library of science, and second, a collection 
of catalogues and bibliographical apparatus. While it may 
be said that portions of the original plan have, by force of 
circumstance, been somewhat modified, the most important 
has never been deviated from : 

2 74 

The Smithsonian Institittion 

"To procure a complete collection of the memoirs and 
transactions of learned societies throughout the world, and an 
entire series of the most important scientific and literary 

This may be said, in brief, to have been the policy of the 
Institution, with regard to its library, from the beginning to 
the present day ; although while making this its primary 
object the Institution has acquired many valuable works 
other than serials and journals, in almost every department 
of human knowledge. 

The first librarian of the Smithsonian Institution was 
Charles C. Jewett, who was nominated Assistant Secretary 
acting as Librarian, by the Secretary, which nomination 
was approved at a meeting of the Board of Regents held 
on January 21, 1847. 

While it is beyond the purpose of this chapter to discuss 
the personnel of the library of the Institution, Mr. Jewett is 
so unique a figure in the history of library work in America, 
and so much of his activity in behalf of the libraries of the 
country is contemporaneous with his stay in the Institution, 
that a brief reference to him is essential.^ 

Charles Coffin Jewett was born in Lebanon, Maine, on 
August 12, 18 16. He studied in the Latin School in Salem, 
Massachusetts, and entered Dartmouth College in 1831, 
leaving it in his sophomore year for Brown University, and 
graduating in 1835. For two years (1835 to 1837) he was 
principal of the Academy in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. In 

1 The first biographical sketch of Professor 
Jewett was a brief address by Doctor Reuben 
Guild, printed in the Providence Evening 
Press, Friday, February lo, 1868, two days 
after Mr. Jewett's death. This notice was 
reprinted in Providence, in octavo form, and 
also in the "Smithsonian Report" for 1867, 
page 128. The most extended notice was 

also by Doctor Guild, being a memorial 
sketch of Professor Jewett, published in The 
Library Journal, Volume XII, November, 
1887, pages 507-511. See also "Historical 
Catalogue of Brown University," Providence, 
R. I. (1764-1894), Providence, 1895, page 
116; N'e'iv England Historical a7id Genealogi- 
cal Register,'^ oXvane. XXII, 1868, page 365. 

The Smithsonian Library 275 

1838 he received the degree of Master of Arts from Brown 
University, and in 1840 was graduated at the Andover Theo- 
logical Seminary. He had devoted himself more especially 
to philology, Oriental languages, and antiquities ; and had 
made a plan for extended travels through the East. 

"He was unexpectedly delayed in the accomplishment of 
this plan by the misdirection of a letter, and that apparently 
slight circumstance determined his subsequent course, and 
gave complexion to all his after life." ^ 

While pursuing his theological course in Andover he as- 
sisted in the arrangement of the library and the preparation 
of its catalogue. From 1840 to 1841 he was the principal of 
Day's Academy in Wrentham, Massachusetts. 

Brown University had been for some time making an effort 
to increase its library, and the Honorable Nicholas Brown 
had erected a special building for a library and chapel. It 
had been the custom for a member of the faculty, in addition 
to his teaching functions, to take charge of the library, but 
this plan was found unsatisfactory, and on October 7, 1841, 
the Board of Trustees passed a resolution that " Mr. Charles 
C. Jewett, of Salem, Massachusetts, be employed, under the 
direction of the library committee, to make out a new and 
approved catalogue of the University library." 

This catalogue was completed and published in the autumn 
of 1843. It consists of two parts, a descriptive catalogue of 
the works in the library and an index of subjects, and at once 
brought Mr. Jewett into favorable notice, being declared "so 
original and intrinsically valuable, that it at once placed him 
at the head of the bibliographers of this country."- In 1843 
Mr. Jewett was appointed professor of modern languages and 

1 New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume XXII, 1868, page 365. 

2 Ibidem. 

276 The Smithsonian Instittition 

literature in Brown University, a place which he held, as well 
as that of librarian, until 1848. His appointment was made 
with the understanding that he should have the opportunity 
of traveling for the purpose of familiarizing himself with the 
modern languages, and of making the acquaintance of libra- 
rians and library methods abroad. During this time he also 
purchased for the Brown University Library a collection of 
7,000 books, which still forms one of the most choice por- 
tions of that valuable library. 

As stated before. Professor Jewett was appointed assistant 
secretary and librarian by Professor Henry in 1847, but it 
was some little time before he actively began the work ol 
collecting books. Meanwhile, he formed various projects 
which were of high importance for the development of Ameri- 
can libraries. His ideas as to the proper functions of the 
Smithsonian Institution in library and bibliographical work 
entirely coincided with those of Professor Henry, and he 
early made an attempt to secure a complete catalogue of 
all the libraries in the United States. The method that 
he proposed was to secure two, or even three, copies of the 
printed catalogues of the various libraries, to supplement 
these by manuscript copies, and to make in this way a cat- 
alogue on slips, or cards, of all the libraries in the United 
States. It was this activity, and the correspondence which 
it occasioned, that brought about the publication of his 
"Notices of Public Libraries in the United States of America" 
by the Smithsonian Institution in 1851, which was "the pi- 
oneer attempt to give a description of all our libraries."^ 

1 "Public Libraries in the United States States, and British Provinces of North Amer- 

of America." Special Report of the Bureau ica." Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott & Co., 

of Education. Washington, 1876, page xviii. 1859. The various reports of the Bureau 

A most useful elaboration of this work was of Education as to the libraries in this coun- 

published in 1859 by Mr. W. J. Rliees, un- try are its legitimate successors. See also 

der the title " Manual of Public Libraries, The Library Journal, Volume xi, 1886, 

Listitutions, and Societies in the United page 199. 

The Sinithsonian Library 277 

Speaking of this publication Professor Henry said : 

"The Report on the statistics of Libraries of the United 
States, prepared by Professor Jewett, has been ordered to be 
printed by Congress, as an appendix to the Regents' Report. 
A sufficient number of extra copies will be presented to the 
Institution, for distribution to all the libraries from which 
statistical information was received. It forms a volume of 
about two hundred and twenty-five pages, and will, I am sure, 
be considered an important contribution to Bibliographical 
Statistics." ^ 

"This report is intended merely as a beginning, to be 
followed by others on the same subject. It has been sent to 
all the libraries of the United States, with the request that its 
deficiencies may be pointed out and additional materials fur- 
nished to render it more perfect. The great interest which 
is felt in this work is manifested by the amount of statistical 
information which has already been received and returned 
for the copies distributed."^ 

Professor Jewett had begun already in 1849, as a prelimin- 
ary to his plan of making a general catalogue of books in the 
United States, to prepare a catalogue of all the books in 
the libraries of Washington ; and much progress was made. 
Meanwhile, his plan for forming a general catalogue of the 
libraries of the United States was being carried on in con- 
junction with another plan, that of furnishing catalogues 
by a cheap and satisfactory process to individual libraries. 
Professor Jewett was of the opinion that the printing of cata- 
logues of American libraries, most of which were repetitions 
of titles already printed, was a great waste of money and 
effort. He, therefore, proposed the plan of printing these 
catalogues by preparing a set of stereotyped titles, which 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1850, page 14. 
2 Professor Henry in " Smithsonian Report," 1851, page 14. 

278 The Smithsonian Institutiori 

were to be under the control of the Smithsonian Institution, 
but at the disposal of any librarian upon application. This 
plan he had already worked out in 1847, and had communi- 
cated it to Mr. Henry Stevens before the latter went abroad. 
He first proposed it in public at the fourth meeting of the 
American Association for the Advancement of Science, held 
in 1850; and later described it more at length in a pamphlet 
issued by the Institution, entitled " On the Construction of 
Catalogues of Libraries and a General Catalogue, and their 
Publication by Means of Separate Stereotyped Titles." A 
second and enlarged edition of this pamphlet, with quite a 
number of changes, was published in 1853. 

It will be seen by a study of the rules drawn up by Pro- 
fessor Jewett, as well as by an examination of the specimens 
which accompanied the reports, that he is entitled to the 
credit of having paved the way for the valuable work in 
scientific bibliography to which so many of our countrymen 
have since contributed, and which is now assuming so great 
an importance to the learned men of the world. His description 
of a book is most accurate ; a publication was to him as much 
an object of careful study as is a natural history specimen to 
a naturalist. His annotations were of great value and made 
with the most exact discrimination. He was, it is true, pre- 
paring catalogues and not bibliographies, and himself drew a 
careful distinction between these two classes of works. Yet 
he felt that the library catalogue should give some of the 
information which was in theory appropriate only to the bib- 
liographical dictionary. 

The scheme attracted at the time most favorable notice. 
In accordance with a rule of the Smithsonian Institution, it 
was referred to a commission, consisting of Edward Everett, 
Charles Folsom, librarian of the Boston Athenaeum; Joseph 
G. Cogswell, superintendent of the Astor Library; George 

The Smithsonian Library. 279 

Livermore, of Boston ; Samuel F. Haven, librarian of the 
American Antiquarian Society, and Edward Everett Hale. 
This commission made a report favorable to the scheme, 
reserving-, however, an opinion as to the merits of a new 
system of electrotyping which had been proposed as the 
more economical. 

This plan of Professor Jewett has continued to meet with 
the commendation of librarians and bibliographers. Sabin ^ 
describes it as "a well written summary of all that has been 
done towards solving this difficult subject. Librarians and 
private collectors will find in it many valuable practical 
hints." Mr. Charles A. Cutter says : ^ 

"Mr. Jewett's plan for a general catalogue of all the libra- 
ries in the country is well known. Something might have 
been done by the aid of the Smithsonian Institution, of which 
he was then librarian ; but as the directors resolutely con- 
fined their efforts to the propagation of science, and as there 
was at that time no other national organization sufficiently 
strong to move in the matter, the plan came to nothing. It 
has been often mentioned since, in terms of regret and long- 
ing; but no one has had the courage or seen the way clear 
to make any definite proposal." 

Doctor William F. Poole, at the Milwaukee conference of 
the American Library Association in 1886, spoke of Professor 
Jewett's "rules" as a simplification and improvement on the 
plan then employed at the British Museum. He said further: 

" Another project he was much interested in at the time ; 
and it was highly creditable to his enterprise and ingenuity. 
It is an honest attempt to lessen the cost of printing elabo- 
rate catalogues, which were then, and are now, absorbing 
funds which ought to be expended in books." 

1" Bibliotheca Americana," Volume ix, 1877, page 268. 
2 The Library Journal, Volume I, 1877, page 220; see also Volume xiii, 18S8, page 107. 

28o The Sniifhsonian Institution 

Mr. George Watson Cole ^ says : 

"We shall come back to Professor Jewett's ideas upon 
these points as being in all respects the most satisfactory. 
The recent revival of his method of printing by separate 
stereotyped titles, by the Publishers Weekly, attests the 
soundness of his judgment." 

The experiments with materials continued, the plan receiv- 
ing the heartiest support and approval, both on the part of 
the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and the Board 
of Recrents. Inasmuch as the Institution had not then a suffi- 
ciently large library on which an experiment could be made, 
it was decided that it would be advisable to attempt to pub- 
lish a catalogue of the Library of Congress upon this plan, 
and the Secretary and the Regents called the attention of the 
Library Committee of Congress to the matter. Congress 
promptly appropriated $3,000 to begin the preparation of a 
catalogue of its library on the plan proposed by Professor 
Jewett. The work was immediately begun, and in 1853 
Professor Jewett reported that upwards of 6,000 volumes had 
already been catalogued. 

It has frequently been asked what became of this plan. 
No better description has ever been given of the causes of 
its failure than that of Doctor Poole before the American 
Library Association in 1886. He said: 

"The material he [Jewett] used was a sort of clay from 
Indiana. Congress made an appropriation for executing the 
plan. I recollect that the librarians of the country generally 
favored it, and that I did not. I remember that I spoke of it 
at the time as ' Professor Jewett's mud catalogue.' My views 
concerning it were based on some practical knowledge of 
legitimate typography, and from specimens of the work which 

l"The Future of Cataloguing," The Library Journal, Volume xv, 1890, page 174. 

The Smithsonian Library 281 

Professor Jewett exhibited.^ .... It failed .... from me- 
chanical defects in the process, — the shrinking and warping 
of the blocks in baking, and the intractable nature of the 
material when baked, which made the exact adjustment of 
the blocks on the press impossible. ... It is not necessary, 
to be a successful man, that one should be successful in every- 
thing he undertakes. Errors, mistakes, and blunders even, 
mark the path of all the great inventors, and the benefactors 
of the race. One who was so full of resources and expedi- 
ents in library economy as Professor Jewett could afford to 
make an erroneous judgment on the process of using baked 
clay in typography." 

The first conference of librarians which ever assembled in 
the world was held in the city of New York, in 1853. Of 
this convention Professor Jewett was, says Doctor Guild, 
"to my certain knowledge the prime mover." He was the 
president of the convention, and upon its adjournment was 
appointed the chairman of its executive committee, and its 
reassembling was made subject to his call. The convention 
met on September 15, 1853, and was in session for three 
days. In speaking of this conference Doctor Poole said: 

" Professor Jewett was the leading spirit in the call and 
management of the convention, and its President. Indeed, 
he may justly be ranked as the ablest and most zealous of the 
early American reformers in the methods of library manage- 
ment." "The convention of 1853 .... made a lasting im- 
pression on the minds of all the librarians who were present, 
and must be regarded as an era in American bibliography." 

Sir Anthony Panizzi, the distinguished librarian of the 
British Museum, was invited to be present by Professor 
Jewett, and we learn from his "Life and Correspondence," 

1 See also " Some Notes on Co-operative or Labor-Saving Methods of Printing Library 
Catalogues," by A. Growoll, The Library Journal, V o\\kme. xill, l888, page 280. 


282 The Smithsonian Institution 

by Louis Fagan, that though he earnestly desired to accept 
this invitation, he was unable to attend. He writes to Mr. 
Haywood, July 21, 1853 : 

"As to my going anywhere, I have to tell you of a dream 
which I should like to become a reality. There is going to 
be a congress of librarians in the United States, which is to 
open on the fifteenth of September next, and where all the 
great questions connected with the management of a great 
library are to be discussed, and uniform principles adopted 
.... They wish me to go, and I should like it amazingly ; 
but the expense is too heavy. I will try, if possible, to get 
enough from the trustees. Do you think it possible, in case 
of my going, that, if the packet is not full, I might have a 
cabin to myself? " 

As bearing on Professor Jewett's own plans, this conven- 
tion adopted the following resolutions : 

'^Resolved, That the thanks of this convention be presented 
to the Board of Regfents and officers of the Smithsonian In- 
stitution for their steady and effective efforts for the increase 
and diffusion of knowledge among men ; and particularly for 
the measures which they have adopted for the encourage- 
ment and promotion of the public libraries of our country." 

''Resolved, That we have considered attentively the plan 
for constructing catalogues of libraries, and a general cata- 
logue of the public libraries of the United States, by means 
of separate stereotype titles, originated and prepared by Pro- 
fessor C. C. Jewett, and developed by him while librarian of 
the Smithsonian Institution. That we regard it as an object 
of high importance to the interests of our public libraries, and 
to the promotion of learning, and worthy to share in the 
funds of the Institution and the zealous exertions of its offi- 
cers ; the more so as it is an enterprise which cannot be 
successfully prosecuted, except under the guidance, protec- 
tion, and pecuniary support of this central establishment for 
the increase and diffusion of knowledpfe. 

The Smith so7tiaji Library 283 

^'Resolved, That we have learned with pleasure that Con- 
gress, on the recommendation of the library committee, made 
an appropriation for the practical testing of the plan in its 
application to the Library of Congress, and that the work is 
now in successful progress." 

In 1855 a difference of opinion between Professor Henry 
and Professor Jewett caused the latter's retirement from the 
Institution. Both Doctor Guild and Doctor Poole expressed 
the opinion that Professor Jewett's retirement represented 
the culmination of a struggle between science and literature, 
in which science prevailed. It is hardly necessary to say that 
a struoftrle between science and literature would in no wise 
involve the question of a library. Science has much greater 
need of books than has literature; under the conditions which 
prevail among scientific investigators of the present day, and 
even of the earlier day, collections of books were absolutely 
essential for the prosecution of their studies. It was not so 
much a question of policy as it was a question of administra- 
tion which occasioned the retirement of Professor Jewett. 

His name will always be held in grateful remembrance at 
the Smithsonian Institution, as it is among all the librarians 
of America. The Institution has more than carried out the 
idea of the establishment of a great library in Washington, 
by the very substantial aid that it has given to the Library 
of Congress, and by its policy of cooperation with that 
library, on every occasion, to make it a truly national library. 
While it has abandoned the idea of publishing catalogues of 
libraries, it has probably rendered a greater service to libra- 
ries by the publication of a large number of scientific bibli- 

Professor Jewett's retirement created a profound sensation 
in the Board of Regents and Congress. Senator Choate, 
who had been from the first an ardent supporter of the 

284 TJie Smithsonimi Institutioii 

library, pure and simple, tendered his resignation as a Con- 
gressional Regent thereupon. An investigation of the policy 
of the Institution followed; but the investigating committee, 
both in the Senate and in the House, supported the policy 
which Professor Henry had pursued. 

Although offered the presidency of a college and a profes- 
sorship in another college, Professor Jewett preferred to 
accept the office of Superintendent of the Boston Public 
Library, whose new building had just then been completed. 
The next ten years of his life were devoted to the develop- 
ment of this great library. 

"It was a fortunate misfortune," said President D. C. Gil- 
man, of the Johns Hopkins University, "that removed Pro- 
fessor Charles C. Jewett from the Smithsonian Institution 
and placed him at the head of the Boston Library."^ 

" He was chosen," says Doctor Guild, "because he was, 
by common consent, the ablest bibliographer and most ac- 
complished librarian in the country. . . . For more than ten 
years Mr. Jewett has thus been identified with the best inter- 
ests of learning in the metropolis of New England. The 
catalogues which he has prepared, and the rules for the gov- 
ernment of the library which he has suggested, have served 
as models for similar libraries in all parts of the country." 

He had the largest share in the preparation of the index to 
the catalogue of the Boston Public Library (1861), and pub- 
lished in the same year a plan for the circulation and use of 
the books in the upper hall of the Public Library. He pro- 
posed a system of charging books, which, with minor excep- 
tions, is still in use there, and is the prevailing practice in 
most of the large libraries of this country. ^ 

1 " Development of the Public Library in Oilman (formerly librarian of Yale College) 

America." An address delivered at the open- published by the University, 189 1, page 4. 

ing of the Cornell University Library, Octo- ^ The Library Journal, Volume xiv, 1889, 

ber 7, 1891, Ithaca, New York, by Daniel C. page 206. 

The Smithsonian Library 285 

Of the catalogue of Bowdoin College library, 1863, which 
was compiled mostly in accordance with Professor Jewett's 
rules, Mr. Sabin says that it was a model catalogue. "Our 
profession," says Doctor Poole, "is a debtor to Professor 
Jewett for his early and scholarly services in bibliography 
and in library economy"; and Mr. W. I. Fletcher, the 
accomplished librarian of Amherst College, mentions him as 
one of the five librarians who " should be held in everlasting 
remembrance." ^ 

During the twenty years of the existence of the American 
Library Association hardly a conference has passed at which 
his name has not been mentioned with a full appreciation of 
his services. 

Professor Jewett was then, by common consent, one of the 
most active librarians of his time ; the originator of much of 
the system of methodical practice in library work which is 
now so generally adopted in the United States, and is begin- 
ning to be regarded with favor in the countries of Europe. 
Under his care the Smithsonian collection grew, in six years, 
to 32,000 volumes. He was one of the first imbued with the 
spirit of cooperation, out of which so much valuable library 
work has grown, and to which all the hope of future biblio- 
graphical work turns. 

The decided indorsement by Congress of the policy pur- 
sued by Professor Fienry marked, in a certain way, an epoch 
in the history of the Institution, releasing it from the obliga- 
tion of creating a great library, as one of its main objects. 
Indeed, its more active cooperation with the library of Con- 
gress was foreshadowed at this time. One of the sources of 
the increase of the library was the copyright system. At 
one time, the Institution was actually charged with the 
granting of copyrights, and it published, in good bibliograph- 

1 " Public Libraries in America." Boston, 1894, page 80. 

286 The Srnithsoniajt Institution 

ical form, in the Report for 1850, a complete list of copyright 
articles (August 10, 1846, to December 31, 1849), the first of 
the kind, I believe, ever published, and one which has only 
been followed in recent years by the list issued by the Treas- 
ury Department. The care of the copyright articles, however, 
was more burdensome than advantageous to the Institution, 
and the Secretary and the Librarian repeatedly urged either 
the repeal or a modification of the law. The charge of the 
books and other articles, which came by virtue of the copyright 
act, and which added but little of any real value to the collec- 
tion, was a serious drain on the funds of the Institution. In 
1864 Congress had appropriated a considerable sum of money 
for the enlargement of its own library ; and as the large collec- 
tion of books, which almost entirely filled the west half of the 
Institution, had become, both for its preservation and care, 
too great a charge upon the resources of the Institution, and 
as the Secretary of the Institution was at this time alarmed 
by the fire which had recently taken place and had threatened 
the entire building, Congress, at the request of the Board of 
Regents, passed an act to provide for the transfer of the 
custody of the library of the Smithsonian Institution to the 
Library of Congress. Professor Henry said on this point, 
in 1865 : 

*'The suggestion has been made in previous reports that 
considerable relief might be afforded to the Institution by the 
transfer of its library, under certain conditions, to the new 
and spacious halls which Congress is providing for its own 
library, and the importance of the proposition has been much 
enhanced by considerations connected with the recent disas- 
ter. The west wing of the building, in which the library is 
now contained, is not fire-proof, and is already filled to over- 
flowing. To provide another depository for it, which shall 
render it entirely secure from fire, and be sufficient for its 
continued increase, will far exceed the means of the Institu- 

The Smithsonian Library 287 

tion, and, although some inconvenience would be experienced 
in regard to ready access to the books, yet, in consideration 
of the great value of the collection, by far the most perfect of 
its kind in the United States, it has been thought proper to 
ask Congress to allow the deposit of this library to be made 
in one of the new fire-proof rooms preparing for the exten- 
sion of its own collection of books. 

" I am informed by Mr. Spofford, the librarian of Congress, 
that these two new rooms will be sufficient to accommodate 
the Smithsonian library, and to furnish space for the growth 
of the Congressional library for the next fifteen or twenty 
years. The object of the transfer is, of course, not to sepa- 
rate this unique and highly-prized collection of books from its 
relations to the Smithsonian Institution, for it must still bear 
its name and be subject to its control, but merely to deposit 
it where its preservation will be more certain and its useful- 
ness more extended." 

This act made it incumbent upon the government to care 
for the collection, preserved to the Institution its customary 
use of its library, gave to it, through the Secretary, the use of 
the Library of Congress, and authorized the Institution to 
withdraw the library upon reimbursement to the Treasury for 
the expenses incurred in binding and care. 

The passage of this bill through Congress aroused consid- 
erable interest. Senator Sumner, of Massachusetts, said, on 
March 22, 1866, "I am very much interested in that question. 
I have paid some little attention to the subject in advance." 
On March 27 the bill again came up. Senator Hendricks, 
of Indiana, inquired 

"whether this bill contemplates the permanent transfer of 
these books to the Congressional Library ? These books 
belong to the Smithsonian trust fund, which I think ought 
not to be diverted." 

2 88 The Smithsonian Institution 

To which Senator Howe, of Maine, who was in charge of 
the bill, replied: "The Senator will see, if he looks over the 
bill, that it does not transfer the title of the books. It is the 
custody of the books that is transferred to the Congressional 
library for safe keeping, as well as for the better accommo- 
dation of the public." Senator Trumbull, of Illinois, enforced 
this statement: 

" I will state to the Senator from Indiana that this is a 
mutual arranorement entered into between the Regents of the 
Smithsonian Institution and the Committee on the Library, 
satisfactory to both parties. It is thought to be safer to have 
them deposited there. There is danger of them at present, 
as the building in which they are is not fire-proof." 

Professor Henry said, in speaking of the transfer of the 
books to the Library of Congress : 

"To those who have not fully considered the subject, it 
might, at first sight, appear that this transfer of a large number 
of rare and valuable books from the building of the Institution 
would be attended with serious inconveniences, and be a vir- 
tual relinquishment of the control of property procured at the 
expense of the Smithsonian fund. But it will be evident, 
on a statement of the facts, that the advantages accruing to 
the Institution and the public from the transfer far outweigh 
any inconvenience which may arise on account of it; and that 
it will tend to increase the efficiency of the funds, while it adds 
to the security and even facilitates the general use of the 

Mr. A. R. Spofford wrote in 1876 as follows: 

" In the year 1866, the Library of Congress received a most 
important accession in the transfer to its shelves of the whole 
collection of books gathered by the Smithsonian Institution, 
and representing twenty years' accumulation since its estab- 

The Smithsonian Library 289 

lishment. This collection was a most valuable complement 
to the library already gathered at the Capitol. . . . With this 
large addition (numbering nearly 40,000 volumes) the Library 
of Congress became at once the most extensive and valu- 
able repository of material for the wants of scholars which 
was to be found in the United States. By the terms of trans- 
fer of the Smithsonian library, Congress became its custodian 
durine such time as the Rejjents of the Smithsonian Institu- 
tion should continue the deposit, it being stipulated that the 
expense of binding and cataloguing of all books should be de- 
frayed by Congress in return for this valuable and annually 
increasing addition to its stores. This arrangement, while it 
relieves the funds of the Smithsonian Institution from an an- 
nual charge in maintaining a library, secures to the National 
Library an invaluable scientific department without material 
cost ; and the deposit, supplying as it does a much larger 
library of use and reference to the scholars of the country than 
is to be found in any one body elsewhere, is likely to be a 
permanent one." ^ 

"The union of the library of the Institution with that of 
Congress still continues to be productive of important results. 
The Smithson fund is relieved by this arrangement from 
the maintenance of a separate library, while at the same time 
the Institution has not only the free use of its own books, but 
also those of the Library of Congress. On the other hand, 
the collection of books owned by Congress would not be 
worthy the name of a national library were it not for the 
Smithsonian deposit. The books which it receives from this 
source are eminently those which exhibit the progress of the 
world in civilization, and are emphatically those essential to 
the contemporaneous advance of our country in the higher 
science of the day." ^ 

The books were actually transferred in 1866, and Doctor 
Theodore Gill, who had been for some time the librarian of 

1 " Public Libraries in the United States," Washington, 1876, page 256. 
2 "Smithsonian Report," 1S73, page 27. 

290 The Smithsonian Institutioit 

the Institution, was appointed an assistant librarian of the 
Library of Congress, and, as his especial duty, had under his 
care the publications of learned societies and scientific pe- 
riodicals, which constitute the bulk of the Smithsonian library. 

From this time on the Institution became, in a certain way, 
an office for receipt and record of publications. Exchanges 
were continued, but there was no other source of increase, 
while the entire care of the books was assumed by the Li- 
brary of Congress. 

With the great growth of the museum, consequent upon 
the accessions after the close of the Centennial Exhibition in 
Philadelphia in 1876, and the very much enlarged scientific 
activity which grew up in the Institution through the work 
of the body of scientific men placed in charge of these 
collections, it was found absolutely essential to have a work- 
ing library of books at the Institution. The first consider- 
able impetus to this collection was the gift by Professor 
Baird of his library, to form the nucleus of a library for the 
National Museum. This important gift he announced in the 
following words : 

" In the increasing amount of routine work with which I 
am charged in the several capacities of Secretary of the 
Smithsonian Institution, Director of the National Museum, 
and Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries, it has become en- 
tirely out of the question to continue those special researches 
in zoology to which I devoted so much time in the early 
years of my connection with the Smithsonian Institution, and 
for which I had accumulated, at my own expense, a large 
number of important works. These I have now formally pre- 
sented to the Library of the National Museum, feeling as- 
sured that they will do the most good in that connection." 

To which he added the statement : 

" The most important source of supply to the Library of the 
National Museum consists in the direct exchanges of publi- 

The Smithsonian Library 291 

cations for those of foreign museums, and of scientific socie- 
ties, and of specialists in natural history. Little, if anything, 
however, comes in not obtained under similar circumstances 
by the exchanges of the Smithsonian Institution. 

" 1 

In 1887 the present Secretary, Mr. S. P. Langley, when 
Assistant Secretary, in charge of the library and exchanges, 
inaugurated a new policy for the further increase of period- 
ical and serial literature in the library of the Institution. He 
obtained, by correspondence with a large number of scientific 
men as well as through the aid of institutions of learning, an 
extensive list of learned societies and scientific periodicals, 
embracing thirty-six hundred titles, a fair proportion of 
which have since been added to the library by the exchange 
of publications. He drew up, at the same time, a code of 
regulations for the conduct of the library, which, with one or 
two additions, is still in force. 

The library of the Smithsonian Institution, whose incep- 
tion and development have been sketched above, consists of 
a methodical collection of the transactions of learned socie- 
ties and scientific periodicals, and publications of acade- 
mies and universities, throughout the world, made by steady 
effort, on a systematic plan, for a half century, and reinforced 
by liberal purchases in the early years to secure the back sets 
of important publications of this kind. 

A collection of this sort was the ideal from the beginning. 
It was proposed in the first letter for the plan of the library 
sent by Professor Jewett to Professor Henry, before the for- 
mer came to the Institution. In his fifth Report, Professor 
Henry, speaking of the collections of transactions and pro- 
ceedings of learned societies, said : 

" In a few years it is believed as complete a collection of 
these will be gathered as it is possible to obtain." 

1" Smithsonian Report," 1882, page 34. 

292 The Smithsonian Institution 

In 1854, in the ninth Report, he stated : 

" The reading" room of the library receives the leading peri- 
odicals of this country and Great Britain, together with a 
number from France, Germany, etc. ; and, therefore, offers de- 
sirable facilities for the reading community of Washington, 
and for those who visit the seat of government, to keep up 
with the general progress of knowledge ; while by means of 
the more profound transactions of learned societies the 
student is afforded the opportunity of becoming acquainted 
with the advances made in special branches of literature and 

In the next Report it is emphasized 

"that the Smithsonian library is intended to be a special 
one, as complete as possible in Transactions and all works of 

In the Report for 1856 he stated : 

"The series of transactions and scientific periodicals is 
gradually becoming more and more complete ; and, in the 
course of a few years, this collection will be as extensive as 
any to be found in the Old World." 

In 1858^ Professor Henry said: 

" The fact has been repeatedly mentioned in preceding 
reports that the principal object aimed at in the collection 
of the library is to procure as perfect and extensive a series as 
possible of the transactions and proceedings of all the learned 
societies which now exist or have existed in different parts 
of the world. It is to works of this character that the student 
of science is obliged to refer for the minute history of the pro- 
gress of any special branch to which he may be devoted, 
and to ascertain accurately what has been published on his 
particular subject previous to commencing his own labors, or 
at least before he gives the results to the world, in order that 

1 •' Smithsonian Report," page 36. 






un liis 

■ iTTTTTTHvir ZAiM08HTiMa am oJjaOKAH) avTcnsH 

The Smithsonian Library 293 

he may do justice to those who have preceded him in the 
same path, and have due regard to his own reputation in not 
pubHshing facts and principles as new discoveries which have 
long since been recorded in the annals of science." 

In 1864^ Professor Henry wrote: 

" It was therefore deemed preferable and more consonant 
with the purposes of the Institution to form a special library, 
which might constitute, as it were, a supplement to the 
Library of Congress, and consist, for the most part, of 
complete sets of the proceedings and transactions of all the 
learned societies in the world, and of other serials essential 
for reference by students specially engaged in original scien- 
tific research. The efforts of the Institution to carry out this 
plan, which has since been sanctioned by Congress, have been 
eminently successful. Principally through exchanges, and 
occasionally by purchase, a more complete collection of the 
works above mentioned has been procured than is to be 
found in any library of the United States, or is easily met 
with even in Europe. The Institution has been assisted in 
making this collection by the liberality of many of the older 
libraries abroad, which, on application, have furnished from 
their duplicates volumes, and even whole sets, to complete 
series of works long since out of print, and which in some 
cases could not have been obtained through any other means." 

Mr. Spofford^ wrote in 1876 of this collection that it consists 

"of the publications of more than two thousand societies 
and institutions without the limits of the United States, 
besides nearly all American societies whiTi print their 
transactions or proceedings," 

which, he says, affords 

"a rich repository of scientific results, continua. v increasing, 
for the reference and use of American scholars.' 

1 "Smithsonian Report," 1S64, page 57. 
2 " Public Libraries in the United Stales," Washington, 1876, page 684. 

294 The Smithsonian Institution 

And, again/ he says that the collection is 

"quite unique in the multitude of publications of learned 
societies in all parts of the world and in nearly all of the 
modern languages." 

Between the years 1887 and 1894 new periodicals to the 
number of 1853 were added to the list, while 1042 defective 
series were either completed or filled out as far as the pub- 
lishers were able to supply missing numbers. 

In the year 1895 the Institution was currently receiving 
3045 periodicals, magazines, and publications of learned so- 
cieties. This number did not include all such publications 
arriving at the Institution, as many societies whose publica- 
tions are issued irregularly had not been included in the 
periodical record. These publications were roughly divided 
into three classes, of which 1565 were devoted to pure sci- 
ence, 704 to applied science, and 776, called miscellaneous, 
included literary, artistic, and trade publications. All the 
well known modern languages were represented, and even 
some of the less known, among which might be mentioned 
Arabic, modern Greek, Finnish, and Japanese ; and two publi- 
cations in Volapiik. Nearly one hundred publications have 
been added since this report was prepared. 

Various catalogues have been printed, but none in recent 
years. The catalogue of these publications belonging to the 
library up to 1883 was at that time typewritten and bound 
together in thirteen large volumes, some of them consisting 
of more than one thousand pages ; while since that time they 
are cataloofued on a card record. 

But although the library is devoted mainly to these pub- 
lications, yet it is not wholly wanting in works of a differ- 
ent nature. Some of these have come through special gift. 

1 Page 256. 

The Smithsonian Library 295 

Thus, the Hbrary of the founder, James Smithson, which con- 
sists of 1 15 volumes and a collection of manuscripts, became 
the property of the Institution.^ 

The Duke of Northumberland presented, in 1859, a series 
of expensive illustrated works, privately printed, relating to 
the local history of the county which bears his name.'^ 

The library whicli belonged to the National Institute and 
contained a large number of valuable books, especially relat- 
ing to meteorology and ethnology, passed into the possession 
of the Smithsonian Institution.^ 

A large number of catalogues of libraries and of public 
institutions of the United States were collected; those of 
colleges were turned over to the Bureau of Education, form- 
ing the nucleus of its present collection. 

In 1852 the Institution received from Mr. J. O. Halliwell, 
of England, 54 volumes, mostly folios, of original documents, 
consisting of bills, accounts, inventories, legal instruments, 
and other business papers, extending from 1632 to 1729, and 
intended to illustrate the history of prices in England. 

The Prussian Government presented a copy of the great 
work on Egypt by Lepsius, and later that distinguished 
scholar himself presented a complete collection of his own 
works. The Ministry of Public Instruction at Paris sent the 
" Description de I'Egypte," published by order of Napoleon 
the First. 

The Royal Library of Dresden presented a series of 232 
original discourses or theses and tracts written by Luther 
or his contemporaries. The Reverend Doctor Morris, then 
librarian of the Peabody Institute at Baltimore, said of this 
collection that it was interesting to the bibliographer because 
all the copies were first impressions, and not reprints. 

1 See " Smithsonian Report," 1857, page 35. 
2 Ibidem, 1859, page 103. 3 Ibidem, 1862, page 16. 

296 The Smithsonian Institutioit 

He added : ^ 

"They present specimens of paper and printing which are 
very creditable to the artisans of that day, ranging as they 
do from 15 18, the year after the Reformation began, to 1546, 
the year of Luther's death. These writings have come to us 
in the same type and paper in which they were distributed 
by thousands over the land at the dawn of the Reformation. 
While the language in which they are written, both German 
and Latin, is not as refined as that employed by scholars 
of the present day, and while the pictorial illustrations are 
coarse, yet these productions show the extraordinary progress 
which the typographic art had already made in the early part 
of the sixteenth century. Many of them have the title-pages 
ornamented with a broad margin of wood-cut figures, most 
of them mythological and grotesque, and all curious. They 
are specimens of the engraving of that day, exceedingly in- 
teresting to the student of the history of art, for these are 
undoubted originals, which collectors of ancient prints prize 
so highly. A few of them are unskilfully illuminated, prob- 
ably executed by some incipient artist, who tried his hand 
on these coarse and cheap wood-cuts. The subjects of the 
pamphlets are diverse and curious, and the titles of many of 
those which are controversial, as was the general custom of 
that day, are expressed in language more forcible than re- 

The University of Tubingen presented twenty-eight folio 
and quarto volumes of rare and curious incunabula. 

From the Honorable G. V. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the 
Navy, there were received 179 volumes, illustrating the phys- 
ical geography, ethnology, and resources of the Russian 
Empire, which had been given to him by the Czar on the 
occasion of his visit to St. Petersburg to present a resolu- 
tion of Congress congratulating that monarch on his escape 
from assassination.^ 

1 " Smithsonian Report," l866, page 30. '^ Ibidtni, 1867, page 60. 

The Smithsonian Library 297 

From the Secretary of State for War of Great Britain 
there came, in 1868, a series of facsimiles of the national 
manuscripts of England, including documents belonging to 
each reign, from William the Conqueror to Queen Anne, 
arranged chronologically, so as to illustrate the changes in 
handwriting and the language of the different periods of 
English history.^ 

It sometimes happened that books were presented to the 
Institution by a special act of Congress, the report of the 
Wilkes Exploring Expedition and the works of Thomas 
Jefferson, Jolin Ouincy Adams, and Alexander Hamilton 
being notable instances. 

From Mariette Bey came facsimiles of the Egyptian 
papyri in the Boulak, now the Gizeh, Museum in Cairo. 

Another most interesting collection was received in 1874, 
being the gift of Major- General Lefroy, Governor of Ber- 
muda, through his relative, Mrs, Dundas, of Canon Hall, 
Larbert, New Brunswick. Concerning these Mr. Spofford 
made the following report : ^ 

"These original records form a collection of the highest 
interest and value as materials of personal and political his- 
tory at a period which must ever remain the most important 
era in the annals of the United States. One of the volumes 
contains twelve reports submitted to the lords of Her 
Majesty's treasury by John Wilmot, Colonel Dundas, and 
the other commissioners, upon the losses and services of the 
claimants who were loyal to the British crown during the 
revolutionary war, and who were afterward indemnified by 
act of Parliament. Six reports in addition, signed by Colonel 
Dundas and Mr. J. Pemberton, commissioners, and extend- 
ing from A. D. I 784 to I 789, are also embraced. Thirty-four 
of the manuscript volumes contain a large amount and variety 
of facts and testimony regarding the landed possessions and 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1868, page 43. "^Ibidem, 1874, page 25. 


298 The Smithsonian Institution 

personal property of hundreds of British subjects in the New- 
England States, as well as in New York, New Jersey, Penn- 
sylvania, etc. As most of these papers have never been 
published, they are the more valuable and original and 
unique repositories of information regarding the persons to 
whom they relate, the descendants of many of whom still 
survive among the people of the United States." 

Alexander Dallas Bache, so intimately connected with the 
Institution in many capacities, presented his collection of rare 
scientific pamphlets. 

The library of Henry R. Schoolcraft, containing many 
valuable ethnological works, has been permanently deposited 
with the Institution. 

Robert Stanton Avery, who left the greater part of his 
estate to the Institution, also bequeathed his library of pam- 
phlets and periodicals. 

Another special feature of the library is the large collection 
of pamphlets and of books relating to scientific matters, and 
of the theses of universities ; a great number of maps and 
works of a general literary nature, and books of reference. 
Among the sciences, meteorology was one which was espe- 
cially represented by a rich collection of manuscript and 
published material. In accordance with its general plan of 
cooperation, the Institution delivered to the Weather Bureau 
all its manuscript material relating to meteorology. 

In 1 85 1 a very valuable collection of etchings, engravings, 
and books which had been made abroad with great care by 
George P. Marsh was purchased for the Institution. In report- 
ing on this collection in 1850, Professor Jewett said : "This 
collection, though not the largest in the country, is believed 
to be the choicest." It contains the work of nearly every 
engraver of celebrity, among whom may be mentioned Diirer, 
Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Claude Lorraine, as well as special 

The Smithsonian Library 299 

folios of old Italian and German masters; also a collection 
of works relating to the history of art, very complete in its 
day. Another collection of engravings was presented to the 
Institution by Mr. C. B. King, in 1861.^ From time to time 
there have been additions to this collection, largely by gift 
and occasionally by purchase. 

The plan formulated by Secretary Langley, and executed 
under his direction, for the greater increase of the library of 
the Institution by exchange than had heretofore obtained, 
has been described above. This plan was so successful that 
the library has almost doubled in size within the past five 
years, the normal increase for a year now amounting to from 
thirty to thirty-five thousand entries of the record book. 
In fact, it may be fairly said that the library is now on a 
more favorable footing, so far as increase is concerned, than 
it was at the time when the Institution was first organized, 
and when almost half of its endowment was assigned for 
library purposes. 

In addition to the library of the Institution proper Secre- 
tary Langley began, in 1891, the collection of 

" a limited number of books, not forming part of the Smithson- 
ian deposit in the Library of Congress, obtained by purchase 
from the Smithsonian fund and retained at the Institution 
under the name of the ' Secretary's Library.' These books 
are mostly, but not exclusively, books of scientific reference, 
certain art serials being included among them."- 

Various other small collections are now beinQf made for 
the use of the Astrophysical Observatory, the Zoological 
Park, for the immediate use of the Institution, denominated 
" OfiEice Library," and files of popular literary magazines for 
the employees. 

1 A catalogue of this collection is contained in the " Smithsonian Report," l86l, page 86. 
2 " Smithsonian Report," 1 891, page 12. 

300 The Smithsonian Institution 

To state the number of volumes which this collection rep- 
resents is now almost impossible, since they have not been 
counted for a number of years; but it will give some approxi- 
mate idea of the size of the library to say that, at present, 
that portion which is known as the " Smithsonian Deposit," in 
the Library of Congress, numbers 357,000 books, pamphlets, 
periodicals, and maps; and other collections, independent of 
the "Smithsonian Deposit," would considerably increase this 

Yet this vast collection is not assembled in any one place 
so as to be visible to the eye and to make an impression by 
its mass. The greater portion of it is deposited in the 
Library of Congress, and it is expected that with the com- 
pletion of the new building for that library a section of it, 
adequate for the purpose, will be assigned for the use of the 
Smithsonian Deposit, so that this great body of scientific 
literature will again become really available. 

The Institution at present maintains a reading-room con- 
taining 500 bins for periodicals, and a reading-room for the 
complete sets of transactions of the six or seven great acade- 
mies of the world. It is collecting such works of reference 
as are indispensable for the use of its staff, and maintains, in 
connection with the Museum, a working library, which had 
its origin in the gift of the library of Professor Baird. This 
collection now numbers some 25,000 works and about 10,000 
pamphlets, which, while accessible to scientific men in Wash- 
ington and elsewhere, are primarily intended for the use of 
the scientific staff of the Institution. The Museum library 
is itself divided into twenty-three sections, placed in the 
work-rooms of the specialists, containing most valuable 
books and series. These special collections range in number 
from 200 to 3000 titles. They are all received, accessioned, 
and catalogued in the central library. Each book or pam- 

The Smithsonian Library 301 

phlet delivered to a sectional library is receipted for, the 
receipt cards being so arranged as themselves to form a 
catalogue of the sectional library. The curator or officer in 
charge of each department is responsible for each book de- 
livered to him, and his receipt therefor is held by the libra- 
rian. All general books of reference, all works relating to 
explorations, and all serials devoted to more than one subject 
are kept in the central library. The librarian may at any 
time recall any book from a sectional library, and a person 
coming to the central library to use a book which is in a 
sectional library can get it almost as readily as though it 
were actually on the shelves ; so that the sectional libraries 
are, in fact, little else than alcoves distributed around the 
building, each one in charge of a specialist whose interest 
in his own department aids materially in the growth of the 
whole library, while the control of these sections is absolute, 
and no general interest suffers because of this specialization. 

Realizing that in the near future it may be desirable 
that many important works belonging to the Institution 
(which it has been found more convenient, in view of the 
crowded condition of the Library of Congress, to care for at 
the Museum and the Institution) may be sent to the new 
library building, the Museum has made a steady effort to 
develop an independent library for the use of its scientific 
staff; but no clashing has ever taken place, and the entire 
work proceeds on a uniform plan, under entire cooperation. 

It is thus manifest that the Smithsonian Institution, while 
not unmindful of the demands of general literature, and even 
art, has been steadily collecting the periodical literature of 
the world. It aims to gather from all quarters the memoirs 
of learned societies, the publications of museums, institutions, 
academies, and of scientific departments of government. 
Other libraries in America devote themselves to special sub- 

302 The Smithsonian Institution 

jects ; no one has found the means, or has had the desire, to 
make a great collection of this nature.^ Professor Henry fre- 
quently said that cooperation, not monopoly, is the watch- 
word of the Smithsonian Institution. Its policy has always 
been to devote itself to such useful fields of labor as no other 
institution could be found ready to take up. 

The growth of its own library has been specially favored 
by the magnitude and value of the publications which it has 
had to offer in exchange, both those issued by Congress and 
those printed from its private fund. By means of its publica- 
tions, and by means of its exchange service, the Smithsonian 
Institution has incidentally secured a library more valuable in 
actual amount and more unique in character than it could 
possibly have obtained had the plan of a library, pure and 
simple, so ardently advocated by Senator Choate, been car- 
ried out. Doctor G. Brown Goode, the Assistant Secretary 
of the Institution, estimated in 1895 that "the value of the 
books distributed since the Institution was opened has been 
nearly $1,000,000, or nearly twice the original bequest of 
Smithson." ^ 

I have little doubt that the Institution has received in ex- 
change more than the entire value of all the money expended 
for publications, and that its collection of scientific transac- 
tions and periodicals is one of the two most important, and 
possibly the most important, in the world. 

1 In accordance with the plan adopted for 2 « An Account of the Smitlisonian In- 

the federation of the libraries in Chicago, the stitution, Its Origin, History, Objects, and 

John Crerar Library will devote itself in part Achievements." City of Washington. For 

to scientific and literary periodicals. distribution at the Atlanta Exposition, 1895. 



By Frederick William True 

^MONG the powers conferred on Congress by 
the Constitution is authority "to promote the 
progress of science and useful arts, by secur- 
ing for Hmited times to authors and inventors 
the exclusive right to their respective writings 
and discoveries." " A result of this provision was the estab- 
lishment of the Patent Office and the assembling in connec- 
tion therewith of numerous models of inventions. 

A building for the Patent Office was erected in 1812, but 
it was destroyed by fire in 1836, and with it the models and 
records it contained. 

" In the Patent Office building, and with it destroyed," 
writes Doctor Goode,^ "there was gathered a collection of 
models which was sometimes by courtesy called the ' Ameri- 
can Museum of Arts,' and which afforded a precedent for the 

1 Nothing could have been more desirable, 
or in every way more fitting, than that this 
chapter on the National Museum should have 
been from the pen of the late Doctor Goode, 
who alone possessed the ability to present 
the subject adequately. I have quoted from 
his printed papers as extensively as circum- 
stances would permit, and the first part of 

the chapter is little more than a paraphrase 
of portions of his writings. — F. W. T. 

2 Article i, section 8. 

3 Goode, G. Brown. " The Origin of the 
National Scieniific and Educational Institu- 
tions of the United States.'' "Annual Re- 
port of the American Historical Association 
for the year lS89,"page 7. 


304 The SmitJiso7tian Institution 

larger collection of models and natural products, which re- 
mained under the custody of the Commissioner of Patents 
until 1858, when it was transferred to the Smithsonian Insti- 
tution and became a part of the present National Museum." 

Though an assemblage of objects of more or less scientific 
interest was thus early formed as an indirect result of the 
policy pursued by the government, the establishment of a 
national museum was earlier in the minds of many American 
statesmen, especially in connection with the educational in- 
stitutes which it was thought the government should found 
for the intellectual advancement of the people. 

In the plan for a federal university published in the Penn- 
sylva7iia Gazette in 1788, and commonly credited to Madi- 
son,^ section 8 relates to natural history, and in connection 
therewith the remark is made : 

"To render instruction in these branches of science easy, 
it will be necessary to establish a museum, and also a garden, 
in which not only all the shrubs, etc., but all the forest trees 
of the United States should be cultivated." 

The plan for a " National Institution " put forth by Joel 
Barlow in 1806 includes mention of the natural history and 
art museums of France in the preamble, and in the plan 
itself (though ambiguously worded) are provisions for collec- 
tions of minerals and philosophical instruments. 

While these and other similar plans show that the forma- 
tion of national collections of art and science was thought 
desirable by the fathers, they did not result directly in the 
establishment of museums under the government. The first 
really scientific collection that came into the possession of the 
government was probably, as Doctor Goode has remarked,^ 

1 See Goode, ibidem, pages 66, 126, who 2 Goode. "Genesis of the National Mu- 

believed Benjamin Rush, of Pennsylvania, to seum." Report United States National Mu- 
have been the author of the plan. seum, 1891, page 273. 

The United States National Mnseiim 305 

Smithson's cabinet of minerals, which was deHvered, with 
the remainder of the Smithson estate, into the hands of 
Richard Rush, the agent of the United States, in 1838. 
The collection is described by a committee of the Na- 
tional Institute as follows : 

"Amoncr the effects of the late Mr. Smithson is a cabinet 
which, so far as it has been examined, proves to consist of a 
choice and beautiful collection of minerals, comprising prob- 
ably eight or ten thousand specimens. The specimens, 
though generally small, are extremely perfect, and consti- 
tute a very complete geological and mineralogical series, em- 
bracing the finest varieties of crystallization, rendered more 
valuable by accompanying figures and descriptions by Mr. 
Smithson, and in his own writing. The cabinet also contains 
a valuable suite of meteoric stones, which appear to be suites 
of most of the important meteorites which have fallen in 
Europe during several centuries." 

Three years later, in 1841, there was formed in Washing- 
ton, chiefly through the exertions of Honorable Joel R. 
Poinsett, of South Carolina, a scientific organization under 
the name of the National Institute, with the avowed pur- 
pose of assembling scientific collections. Article 14 of the 
bill of incorporation reads thus : 

"The resident and corresponding members shall exert 
themselves to procure specimens of natural history, and so 
forth ; and the said specimens shall be placed in the cabinet, 
under the superintendence of a board of curators, to be ap- 
pointed by the directors. All such specimens, and so forth, 
unless deposited specially, shall remain in the cabinet ; and, 
in case of the dissolution of the institution, shall become the 
property of the United States."^ 

The Institute was dissolved in 1861 and its collections 
deposited in the Smithsonian Institution, "By this so- 

1 Rhees, W. J. " The Smithsonian Institution : Documents Relative to its Origin," page 240. 

3o6 The Smithsonian Institution 

clety," remarks Doctor Goode, "the nucleus for a National 
Museum was gathered in the Patent Office building in Wash- 
ington, and public opinion was educated to consider the es- 
tablishment of such an institution worthy of the attention of 
the government of tHe United States." ^ 

The first collections of any magnitude which the National 
Institute took under its care were those of the United 
States Exploring Expedition which was sent out by the 
Navy Department, under Lieutenant Wilkes, in 1838. Ear- 
lier expeditions under the auspices of the government had 
been organized, but they either made no collections or de- 
posited such as they did make in private museums outside 
of Washington. 

The first collections of the exploring expedition were re- 
ceived in Philadelphia in 1840 and were temporarily stored 
in a room belonging to the Philadelphia Museum. Poinsett 
induced the Secretary of the Navy, James K. Paulding, 
to forward these collections to Washington, and interested 
himself to secure from Congress an appropriation of $5000 
to defray the cost of their transportation and subsequent 

In April, 1841, the collections were deposited in a portion 
of a room in the new Patent Office, designated for the 
purpose by the Secretary of State. Doctor Henry King, a 
geologist and mining expert and curator of the National 
Institute, was in direct charge. The compensation of the 
curator was paid from the appropriation of Congress already 
referred to. 

With what rapidity collections accumulated under the 
charge of the National Institute may be learned from the 

1 Report of the United States National to the Smithsonian Institution, by Doctor 
Museum, 1893, page 3. For a full account Goode, the reader is directed to pages 38-48 
of the National Institute and its relation of the present work. 

The United States National Museum 307 

report of the committee of the Institute dated January i, 
1842. This report recites that "the entire collection is de- 
posited in the upper rooms of the Patent Office; it con- 
sists of:^ 

"Donations from foreign governments. 

" Donations from other institutions, foreign and domestic. 

"Donations from ministers and consuls abroad, and from 
officers of our Army and Navy. 

" Donations from individuals and from members of the 
Institution. The Iowa collection of mineralogical and geo- 
logical specimens, made by R, D. Owen, Esquire, under the 
direction of the Treasury Department. 

"The collection of mineralogical and geological specimens 
which had been on deposit in the bureau of the Corps of 
Topographical Engineers. 

"The collection of portraits of distinguished Indians, and 
the collection of Indian curiosities which had been on deposit 
in the War Department. 

"The minerals, books, papers, and personal effects of the 
Smithsonian bequest. 

"The two shipments which have been received from the 
exploring squadron, consisting of minerals, specimens of nat- 
ural history, works of art, implements of war, and curiosities. 

"The books, minerals, and works of art belonging to the 
late Columbian Institute. 

"The books, papers, and proceedings of the late American 
Historical Society. 

" Cabinets and specimens, deposited by members in trust, 
for public use." 

These collections, according to the same report, comprised 
about 1000 books and pamphlets, 50 maps and charts, 500 
castings in plaster (medals and seals), 186 paintings, about 
1600 bird-skins, 160 skins of quadrupeds, 50 skins of fishes; 
200 jars, 2 barrels, and 10 kegs of fishes, reptiles, etc., in 

1 Goode. " Genesis of the United States National Museum," page 347. 

3o8 The Smithsonian Institution 

spirits ; 50,000 botanical specimens, 3000 insects, several 
hundred thousand shells, 500 corallines, more than 2000 crus- 
taceans, 300 starfishes, etc., 100 sponges, 7000 separate speci- 
mens of minerals, and 50 boxes of the minerals and geological 
specimens. Those engaged in caring for the collections at 
this time were the curator of the Institute, Doctor King, 
a taxidermist, a botanical assistant and two other assistants, 
a mechanic, and a laborer. 

Thus was established what in reality was a National Mu- 
seum, containing collections belonging to the government, 
sustained by an appropriation from Congress, and employing 
a curator and assistants. For a time prosperity seemed 
assured, but complications soon arose which proved disas- 
trous in the highest degree not only to the museum but to 
the National Institute itself. 

The room in the Patent Office set apart for the collections 
by direction of the Secretary of State was needed for the 
display of models of inventions, and the Commissioner of 
Patents made strong protests against its occupancy by the 

In August, 1842, Congress authorized the occupancy, 
"until other provisions be made by law," and also appro- 
priated $20,000 for the care and arrangement of the collec- 
tions, but in addition ordered that the persons having the 
work in charge should be appointed by the Joint Committee 
of the Library. 

Only a month earlier a charter had been granted to the 
Institute, in which all trusts previously held were confirmed. 
"The supporters of the Institute," writes Doctor Goode,^ 
"were disposed to urge that this was applicable to the col- 
lections of the * exploring squadron ' at that time in the cus- 
tody of the Institute. The question did not come up in a 

. 1 Goode. " Genesis of the United States National Museum," page 311. 

The United States National Mitseimi 309 

troublesome way at this time, for the Library Committee, at 
that time [not] unfriendly, simply confirmed the choice of cura- 
tor made by the National Institute, and appointed Doctor 
Pickering" to the position, Doctor Pickering being thenceforth 
subject to the Congressional Committee, and only by courtesy 
acting for the National Institute." 

A little later, in 1843, ^^ Library Committee having no 
longer any consideration for the Institute, without consult- 
ing its officers, appointed the Commissioner of Patents to have 
general charge of the government collections, and Captain 
Wilkes, the head of the exploring expedition, to arrange 
and display them. Captain Wilkes proceeded with the work, 
pushing aside the collections of the Institute to make place 
for those of the government, yet professing an interest in 
the welfare of the Institute and the security of its prop- 
erty. The drift of matters came to the attention of the 
officers of the Institute only by rumor, but Colonel J. J. 
Abert initiated a correspondence with Captain Wilkes, in- 
quiring whether he or his assistants would devote any time 
to the care of the collections of the Institute, and stating 
that if such was not the case the attention of the Institute 
would be immediately called to the necessity of otherwise 
protecting its property. The replies were not satisfactory. 
Captain W^ilkes held that as he and his assistants were 
paid by the government they could not spend any time in 
working upon collections belonging to a private organiza- 
tion. Nevertheless, he expressed an intention not to dis- 
turb the collections of the Institute more than should be 
really necessary in working out those of the government, 
and to watch over them as far as possible. 

A few months later, in a correspondence relative to the 
"Ontonagon" copper boulder now in the National ^luseum, 
the Commissioner of Patents took the same ground, and held 

3IO The Smithsonian Institution 

also that he had entire control over the room in which the 
property of the Institute was deposited. 

At the end of 1843, therefore, the National Institute 
found itself bereft of the control of the government collec- 
tions, without funds, except the membership dues, which 
were much in arrears, and without quarters for its large and 
rapidly accumulating collections. 

"The real cause of the decline of the National Institute," 
writes Doctor Goode,^ " was simple enough. Failing to 
secure grants of money from Congress, the society was over- 
whelmed by the deluge of museum materials, which in re- 
sponse to its enthusiastic and widely-circulated appeals came 
to it from all quarters of the world. The annual receipts 
from the assessment of members were insufficient to pay for 
the care of the collections, and although by virtue of the long 
term of its charter the collections were kept together until 
1 86 1, there was little science and little energy manifested in 
this administration." 

While the events we have mentioned were taking place 
extended discussions were going on in Congress, and in the 
country generally, regarding the proper disposition to be 
made of the bequest of James Smithson. It is unnecessary 
in the present connection to consider the various views put 
forth further than to remark that several schemes included 
provisions for museums of natural history and the arts. 

The act of incorporation of the Smithsonian Institution 
passed August 10, 1846, provided that the Regents, having 
selected a proper site, " shall cause to be erected a suitable 
building of plain and durable materials and structure, without 
unnecessary ornament, and of sufficient size, and with suitable 
rooms or halls for the reception and arrangement, upon a 
liberal scale, of objects of natural history, including a geologi- 

1 Goode. " Genesis of the United States National Museum," page 328. 

TJie United States National Museum 3 1 1 

cal and mineralogical cabinet; also, a chemical laboratory, a 
library, a gallery of art, and the necessary lecture rooms." 

It is further provided that the Regents "may so locate 
said building, if they shall deem it proper, as in appearance to 
form a wing to the Patent Office building, and may so con- 
nect the same with the present hall of said Patent Office 
building, containing the National Cabinet of Curiosities,^ as to 
constitute the said hall, in whole or in part, the deposit for 

the cabinet of the said Institution, if they deem it expedient 
to do so." This plan was not adopted. 

Section 6 of the same act provides that "in proportion as 
suitable arrangements can be made for their reception, all 
objects of art and of foreign and curious research, and all 
objects of natural history, plants, and geological and minera- 
logical specimens belonging, or hereafter to belong, to the 
United States, which may be in the city of Washington, in 
whosesoever custody the same may be, shall be delivered to 
such persons as may be authorized by the Board of Regents 
to receive them, and shall be arranged in such order and so 
classed as best to facilitate the examination and study of 
them, in the building so as aforesaid to be erected for the 

Considering the section relating to buildings mandatory, 
and under the belief that the collections beloncrino- to the 
government must be accepted and housed, the Board of 
Regents of the newly-established Institution proceeded at 
once with the erection of a lar^je brown-stone structure. 

For various reasons the building was many years in con- 
struction, and during this period the first Secretary, Joseph 
Henry, became more and more pronounced in his opinion 
that the government collections should not be cared for at the 
expense of the Smithsonian fund. Indeed, he was in doubt 

1 See Goode, op. cit., page 301, 

312 The Sifiithsonian Institution 

whether the Institution ought to form extensive miscellaneous 
collections to be maintained permanently at the expense of 
its funds, although he fully appreciated the value of collec- 
tions, and, as will presently appear, labored to carry out the 
program adopted for the Institution by acquiring and caring 
for such special collections as could be made the direct means 
of increasing and diffusing knowledge. In the Report for 
1850 he remarked: 

" It would not be in accordance with the spirit of the or- 
ganization to expend the income in the reproduction of col- 
lections of objects which are to be found in every museum of 
the country. Natural history can be much more effectively 
promoted by special collections of new objects, by appropri- 
ations for original explorations and researches, and, above 
all, by assistance in the preparation of the necessary drawings, 
and by presenting to the world, in a proper form, the labors 
of naturalists. In conformity with these views, it has been 
resolved to confine the collections, principally, to objects of a 
special character, or to such as may lead to the discovery of 
new truths, or which may serve to verify or disprove existing 
or proposed scientific generalizations."^ 

Again, in the Report for 185 1, perhaps thinking that his 
position regarding museums might be misunderstood, he 
wrote : 

" I would distinctly disavow the intention of underrating 
the importance of collections in themselves. On the con- 
trary, it ought to be the duty of the Smithsonian Institu- 
tion to point out the means by which they may be made, 
and to aid in the work, to the extent of its ability, by 
embracing all opportunities which may offer for procuring 
specimens for distribution, and by facilitating exchange and 
assisting explorations." ^ 

1 " Smilhsonian Report," 1850, page 21 (reprinted in Report for 1853, page 202). 
2" Smithsonian Report," 1851, page 24 (reprinted in Report for 1853, page 227). 

The United States National Mttsetim 313 

In the same connection he expressed his views regard- 
ing the importance of a National Museum, in the following 
words : 

"Though the formation of a general collection is neither 
within the means nor the province of the Institution, it is 
an object which ought to engage the attention of Congress. 
A general museum appears to be a necessary establishment 
at the seat of government of every civilized nation. . . . An 
establishment of this kind can only be supported by govern- 
ment ; and the proposition ought never to be encouraged of 
putting this duty on the limited, though liberal bequest of a 
foreigner. The Smithsonian Institution will readily take 
the supervision of an establishment of this kind, and give 
plans for its organization and arrangement, provided it be 
requested to do so, and the means for effecting the object be 
liberally supplied." ^ 

In 1850 Professor Spencer F. Baird was appointed Assist- 
ant Secretary of the Institution in charge of publications and 
museum. He brought with him from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 
not only a considerable zoological collection assembled by his 
own activity, but, what was vastly more important, a system 
of recording, assorting, and distributing collections which was 
sufficiently comprehensive and elastic to meet the needs of a 
great museum. In December, 1850, he placed in the hands 
of Secretary Henry a full outline of operations which he after- 
ward carried into practice with the most signal success. He 
perceived that the numerous surveying parties which the 
government was sending out from year to year into the 
Western territories would be powerful agencies in increas- 
ing the knowledge of the natural history of the country if 
they could be induced to make collections of natural objects 
along the various routes they traversed. To this end the 

1 "Smithsonian Report," 1851, page 25 (reprinted in Report for 1854, page 227). 

SH The Smithsonian Institution 

influence of the Institution was brought to bear on those 
officials of the government who had the several surveys in 

The extent and form of participation by the Institution in 
the explorations of the government surveys varied in different 
cases. In some instances the Secretary of War was induced 
to grant an officer of the Army leave of absence for the pur- 
pose of making scientific explorations in some little known 
part of the country. Again, the Institution furnished outfits 
and directions for collecting to such surgeons and other offi- 
cers of the surveying and exploring parties as manifested an 
interest in natural history explorations. In some cases the 
personnel of an exploring party included a naturalist of 
known abilities and experience, and the Institution furnished 
every facility for collecting. 

On this point Professor Baird, referring to the Mexican 
Boundary and Pacific Railroad surveys, reported in 1853 as 
follows : 

"Without a single exception, all these parties have been 
fitted out at the Smithsonian Institution with all necessary 
instruments and apparatus for natural history research, much 
of it contrived with special reference to the exigencies of 
the particular service involved. Full instructions were also 
supplied, by which persons without previous practice were 
enabled to master all the general principles required for mak- 
ing observations and collections of every kind."^ 

The participation of the Institution also took the form of 
aid in the publication of results. Every year one or more 
publications based on the collections of the government 
parties were issued. 

Fostered by the Institution, to whose interest Professor 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1853, page 52. 

The United States National Museum 315 

Baird lent enthusiasm and untiring energy, the work of col- 
lecting yielded abundant fruits. In 1853, three years after 
his arrival at the Institution, Professor Baird, having worked 
along the lines laid down by Henry, in procuring such series 
of specimens as were calculated to open up new fields of study 
and to increase knowledge, was able to report on the wonder- 
ful development of the natural history collections in the fol- 
lowing words: 

" It may be well to call attention to the fact that it has 
been the work of but three years to raise this collection 
from nothing to the front rank among American cabinets, 
exceeding all perhaps in the number of new species first 
brought to light within its limits. Nor has effort been con- 
fined merely to the acquisition of specimens, but to their con- 
centration in mass, so as to supply all working naturalists 
with the materials of research. As already stated, applica- 
tions for such assistance are constantly being received, and 
always met with all possible promptness ; so that scarcely any 
natural history monograph or memoir of any extent has been 
published in this country within a year or two which has not 
been indebted in this way to the Institution. From the care, 
too, taken to keep separate all the localities, however near 
together, of any species, the collection affords information in 
reference to the geographical distribution of species of the 
very highest value." ^ 

At the end of a decade, in i860. Professor Henry was able 
to say : 

"The scientific material thus collected is very valuable, 
and, in number and variety of specimens and duplicates to 
illustrate the natural productions of the North American 
Continent, far excels any other collection ever made."" 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1853, page 54. 
2 " Smithsonian Report," i860, page 44. 

3i6 The S^nithsonian Institution 

While the Institution was thus exerting itself to obtain 
special collections to serve as the basis of research, the Com- 
missioner of Patents was growing each year more desirous 
of having the use of the space occupied in the Patent Office 
by the national collections, and appealed frequently to Con- 
gress and to the Regents of the Institution to relieve him 
of their care. 

In 1857, when Professor Henry brought the matter before 
them anew, they finally agreed that the transfer of the collec- 
tions to the Smithsonian building should take place, but 
stipulated that an appropriation should be made to cover the 
expense of the transfer and the construction of cases in the 
Smithsonian building, and that the Secretary of the Interior 
should undertake to obtain from Congress, as before, an 
annual appropriation for the care of the collections. In his 
report for 1856 Secretary Henry said: 

" For the present, it may be well to adopt the plan suggested 
in a late report of the Commissioner of Patents, namely, to 
remove the museum of the Exploring Expedition, which now 
fills a large and valuable room in the Patent Office, wanted 
for the exhibition of models, to the spacious hall of the Insti- 
tution, at present unoccupied, and to continue, under the direc- 
tion of the Regents, the appropriation now annually made for 
the preservation and display of the collections. 

" Although the Regents, a few years ago, declined to accept 
this museum as a gift, yet, since experience has shown that 
the building will ultimately be filled with objects of natural 
history belonging to the general government, which, for the 
good of science, it will be necessary to preserve, it may be a 
question whether, in consideration of this fact, it would not 
be well to offer the use of the large room immediately for a 
national museum, of which the Smithsonian Institution would 
be the mere curator, and the expense of maintaining which 
should be paid by the general government."^ 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1856, page 22. 

The United States National Musetim 317 

"I can find no record in the minutes of the Regents," 
writes Doctor Goode, " but have been informed by Mr. W. 
J. Rhees, of the Smithsonian Institution, that an urgent re- 
quest for the use of the hall was made by the Commissioner of 
Patents and the Secretary of the Interior, and that the Board 
decided to grant this request on the condition that Congress 
should appropriate money for the construction of the cases 
and the transfer of the collections, and that the Secretary of 
the Interior should provide for the expenses of the care of 
the collections after their transfer in the same manner as 

The collections were transferred to the Institution in 1858. 
Professor Baird reported that year ^ that twelve separate col- 
lections were received from the Patent Office, of which the 
most considerable was the collection of the exploring expe- 
dition under Captain Wilkes. He estimated that the Patent 
Office collections together constituted about one-fifth of the 
objects in the Smithsonian museum. He pointed out also that 
there were then in the museum twenty-three other govern- 
ment collections which had never been in the Patent Office. 
These were chiefly assembled by the different field parties of 
the Pacific Railroad Survey, the Mexican Boundary Survey, 
and other government expeditions engaged in exploring the 
national domain. 

The policy relating to the treatment of the collections 
adopted by the Institution was fully explained in the report 
of the Secretary for 1861, though in most of its essential 
features it was in operation as early as 1857. Secretary 
Henry remarks: ^ 

"The specimens may be divided into two classes — first, 
those which have been described in the reports of govern- 

1 Goode. " Genesis of the United States National Museum," page 342. 
2 " Smithsonian Report," 1858, page 52. '^ " Smithsonian Report," 1861, page 41. 


3i8 The Smithsonian Institution 

ment expeditions or the transactions of the Smithsonian and 
other institutions ; and second, those which have not been de- 
scribed, and which consequently are considered of much value 
by the naturalists who are interested in extending the several 
branches of natural history. Of both classes the Institution 
possesses a large number of duplicates, in the disposition of 
which some general principles should be kept constantly in 
view. After due consultation with naturalists, the following 
rules, which were presented in the last report, have been 
adopted relative to the described specimens : 

"First. To advance original science, the duplicate type 
specimens are to be distributed as widely as possible to scien- 
tific institutions in this country and abroad, in order that they 
may be used in identifying the species and genera which have 
been described. 

" Second. To promote education, as full sets as possible of 
general duplicates, properly labeled, are to be presented to 
colleges and other institutions of learning that profess to 
teach the principal branches of natural history. 

" Third. It must be distinctly understood that due credit 
is to be given to the Institution in the labeling of the speci- 
mens, and in all accounts which may be published of them, 
since such credit is not only due to the name of Smithson, 
but also to the directors of the Establishment, as vouchers to 
the world that they are faithfully carrying out the intention 
of the bequest. 

"Fourth. It may be proper, in the distribution to institu- 
tions abroad, as a general rule, to require, in case type speci- 
mens to illustrate species which have been described by 
foreign authors may be wanted for comparison or other uses 
in this country, that they be furnished at any time they may 
be required. 

"Fifth. In return for specimens which may be presented 
to collecres and other educational establishments, collections 
from localities in their vicinity which may be desirable shall 
be furnished when required. 

" In the disposition of the undescribed specimens of the 
collection, it is impossible to be governed by rules quite as 

The United States National Mtiseiini 319 

definite as those which relate to the previous class, but the 
following considerations have been adopted as governing- 

" I. The original specimens ought not to be intrusted to 
inexperienced persons, or to those who have not given evi- 
dence of their ability properly to accomplish the task they 
have undertaken. 

" 2. Preference should be given to those who are engaged 
in the laborious and difficult task of preparing complete 

"3. As it would be illiberal to restrict the use of the speci- 
mens, and confine the study of them to persons who can visit 
Washington, the investigator should be allowed to take them 
to his place of residence, and to retain them for a reasonable 

"4. The investigator must give assurance that he will pre- 
pare a set of type specimens for the Smithsonian museum, 
and will return all the duplicates, if required. 

" 5. In any publication which may be made of the results 
of the investigation, full credit must be accorded to the In- 
stitution for the facilities which have been afforded." 

All these provisions on the part of the Institution were car- 
ried out as far as the circumstances would permit. The 

money available was insufficient for employing paid assist- 
ants to any considerable extent, and the Institution had the 
benefit of the voluntary assistance both of many recognized 
authorities in the several branches of science and of young 
students. The extent and importance of this aid cannot be 
overestimated. Collections which would have remained use- 
less for years were rapidly classified by competent naturalists 
and separated into series, some to be reserved by the In- 
stitution, and others to be distributed to kindred scientific 
establishments and to colleofes and schools. 

The list of collaborators includes almost every name prom- 
inent in American natural history in the last half century. Nor 

320 The Smithsonian Institution 

is this a matter for wonderment. The collections made by the 
exploring parties of the government in the twenty-five or 
thirty years following the founding of the Institution contained 
a great number of highly interesting forms of animals and 
plants previously unknown to science, and the naturalists in 
whose hands the various series were placed constantly en- 
joyed the delight of discovering these and making them 
known to the world. The boundaries of American natural 
history were widened in every direction. As regards verte- 
brates, Professor Baird remarked as early as 1856: 

"Messrs. Audubon and Bachman describe about 150 North 
American species of mammals. This Institution possesses 
about 130 of these; and about 50 additional species have 
already been detected, although the examination of the entire 
collection has not yet been completed. 

"Of North American birds, the Institution possesses nearly 
all described by Audubon, and at least 150 additional species. 

"Of reptiles, the North American species in the Museum of 
the Smithsonian Institution amount to between 350 and 400. 
Of the 150 species described in Holbrook's ' North American 
Herpetology,' the latest authority on the subject, it possesses 
every genuine species, with one or two exceptions, and at 
least 200 additional ones. It has about 130 species of North 
American serpents for the 49 described by Holbrook. 

" Of the number of species of North American fishes it is 
impossible to form even an approximate estimate, the increase 
having been so great. It will not, however, be too much to 
say that the Institution has between four and five hundred 
species either entirely new or else described first from its 
shelves." ^ 

The scientific elaboration of the collections resulted in the 
publication of a great number of monographs and preliminary 
papers in the "Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge" and 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1856, page 60. 

The United States National Museum 321 

"Miscellaneous Collections," in the reports of the government 
surveys, and in the journals of learned societies at home and 
abroad. Many of the more comprehensive of these works 
remained as standards for a quarter of a century, and some 
have not been supplanted at the present day. 

In this work no one labored with more enthusiasm or more 
success than Professor Baird, who, while carrying the burden 
of caring for the collections and planning for the exploration 
of new fields, prepared and published a series of works on 
North American vertebrates which commanded the admira- 
tion of naturalists throughout the world. 

Side by side with the activities resulting in the increase of 
knowledge, the work of diffusing knowledge by the distribu- 
tion of named natural history specimens was carried forward 
on an extensive scale. In the first twenty years of its history the 
Institution, according to the estimate of Professor Baird, ^ dis- 
tributed more than one hundred thousand specimens, of which 
the larger part were identified and labeled. 

In 1861 the charter of the National Institute expired and 
the various objects belonging to that organization became the 
property of the government and were transferred to the care 
of the Smithsonian Institution. 

At this date, therefore, all the scientific and art collections 
belonging to the government and the collections made by 
the Institution itself were assembled in the Smithsonian 
building. They comprised many thousands of objects, and 
were administered by Professor Baird as Assistant Secretary 
of the Institution. 

From the time the government came into possession, in 
1 84 1, of the collection made by the Wilkes Exploring Expe- 
dition Congress appropriated each year a small sum for the 
preservation of the objects accumulated in the Patent Office, 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1865, page 85. 

322 The Smithsonian Institution 

which money was disbursed at first by the National In- 
stitute, afterward by the Commissioner of Patents or the 
Joint Library Committee of Congress. 

After these collections were transferred to the Smithsonian 
Institution in 1858, the appropriations for maintenance con- 
tinued year by year, though small in amount. In 1858 the 
appropriation was $3,650; in 1859, and for eight years fol- 
lowing, $4,000. The Institution never received any compen- 
sation for the occupancy of its building. As early as 1856,^ 
Professor Henry expressed the opinion at an early day that 
the government might with propriety and advantage purchase 
the Smithsonian building from the Institution for housing the 
government collections "of natural history and the fine arts," 
but no action in that direction was ever taken. 

When these collections were transferred from the Patent 
Office a series of new cases designed by Thomas U. Walter 
were erected in the main hall of the Smithsonian building 
for their display. Great progress has been made in museum 
methods in the last two decades, but the cases, arrangement, 
labeling, and taxidermy in the Smithsonian museum thirty- 
five years ago were probably as good as could be found in 
any scientific museum in the world at that time. The exhibi- 
tion of many examples of a single species of animal or min- 
eral, or of a single kind of ethnological or geological object, 
was not considered objectionable, and it was a common prac- 
tice to mount and exhibit type specimens of animals. To 
such matters as the size of glass in cases, the color of wood- 
work and labels, the effect of different groupings of speci- 
mens, little attention was devoted. Indeed, the amount of 
money spent upon scientific museums was not sufficient for 
great refinement in display. Collections were exhibited for 
the satisfaction of the mature man of science, rather than the 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1856, page 22. 

The United States National Museum 323 

youthful student and the layman. Yet these latter classes 
were neither purposely neglected nor did they complain of 
the methods in vogue. 

It is with interest that we read the following comment by 
Professor Henry on the Smithsonian museum in 1861 : 

" During the past year Washington has been visited by a 
greater number of strangers than ever before since the com- 
mencement of its history. The museum has consequently 
been continually thronged with visitors, and has been a never- 
failing source of pleasure and instruction to the soldiers of 
the Army of the United States quartered in this city or its 
vicinity. Encouragement has been given them to visit it as 
often as their duties would permit them to devote the time for 
the purpose. 

" 1 

In 1865 an event of much importance occurred. A fire 
broke out in the second floor of the Smithsonian building and 
destroyed the upper portions of the edifice. Many collections 
were entirely destroyed or injured beyond repair, among 
which the most important were Smithson's personal effects 
and cabinet of minerals, a large series of portraits of Indians 
painted and owned by J. M. Stanley, and the collection of 
physical instruments, including Hare's experimental apparatus 
and "the lens used by Priestley for the evolution of oxygen 
from the oxide of mercury, and by means of which the first dis- 
tinct recognition of this elementary substance was effected."^ 

This event produced results affecting the museum in many 
ways. It called attention to the fact that the library of the 
Institution was kept in rooms not fireproof, and the transfer 
of the books to the Library of Congress was hastened, the 
space being subsequently occupied by the less valuable por- 
tions of the natural history collections. By the destruction 
of the Stanley portraits of Indians, which, though really an 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1861, page 44. 2 <« Smithsonian Report," 1865, page 18. 

324 The Smithsonian Institution 

ethnological collection and only on deposit in the Institution, 
formed an important part of what (with frequent apologies) 
was called "the gallery of art," the attempts to form an art 
collection of merit received discouragement. The reconstruc- 
tion of the building, made necessary by the fire, led to a new 
assignment of rooms for the ethnological collections. Pre- 
vious to the fire the upper story had been used principally as 
a lecture-room, but the interest in lectures flagging for a 
time, it was determined after the reconstruction to place the 
ethnological collections in that portion of the building, but 
the transfer was not effected until several years later. 

Though the formation of an art gallery was provided for 
in the organization of the Institution and a few art objects 
came into the possession of the government from time to 
time. Professor Henry took the position at an early day that 
with the funds available the establishment of an art collection 
worthy of the name was impossible. When Mr. W. W. Cor- 
coran first took active steps toward the formation of the 
"Corcoran Art Gallery" in 1869, Henry recommended that 
art objects belonging to the Institution should be deposited 
therein. In 1873 the Board of Regents approved the plan, 
and in the following year a few paintings, sculptures, and 
engravings were transferred. 

In the early days of the Institution the valuable collection 
of engravings made by Honorable George P. Marsh was pur- 
chased (the only large purchase by the Institution in the 
direction of art), and soon after the fire in the Smithsonian 
building it was transferred to the Library of Congress. 

By 1874, therefore, the Institution had definitely aban- 
doned all efforts toward the establishment of an art gallery, 
and though some few objects connected with the fine arts 
have come under its care in later years, they have never 
been assembled so as to form a proper "gallery." 

The United States National Museum 325 

In 1 87 1 Congress established the United States Fish Com- 
mission and Professor Baird was placed at its head. The 
organization of the Commission on this basis had a most im- 
portant effect upon the development of the National Museum 
in certain directions. The work of the Commission had to 
do largely with the natural history of fish and other aquatic 
animals, and in the course of a few years very large collec- 
tions of marine life were deposited in the Museum. Later 
the work of the Commission turned toward the investigation 
of the phenomena of the deep sea, and in 1882 a sea-going 
steamer, the Albatross, was built, and extensive sounding 
and dredging operations in great depths were carried on. 

The collections made during the progress of this work, 
and deposited in the Museum, were of the highest scientific 
interest, and the results already published by Goode, Verrill, 
Bean, Rathbun, Smith, and other naturalists have attracted 
worldwide attention. In many other ways, which cannot 
be detailed in the present connection, the work of the Com- 
mission was of direct and indirect benefit to the Museum, 
and the cooperation of these two governmental organizations 
has continued until the present. 

Not many years after the organization of the Commission 
the question of the desirability of holding a great World's Fair 
to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the Declara- 
tion of Independence began to be agitated in the country. 
The movement culminated in the organization of the Cen- 
tennial Exhibition of 1876, held in Philadelphia. This event 
was destined to have a more important effect upon the Na- 
tional Museum than any which had occurred since the 
founding of the Smithsonian Institution. 

The government determined that the various departments 
and bureaus should make extensive exhibits indicating their 
several functions, and on January 23, 1874, the President 

326 The Smithsonian histitution 

appointed a government board to have general charge. The 
Smithsonian Institution was represented by Professor Baird. 
In the first plans of the board the National Museum exhibit 
was included under that of the Institution, and the Fish Com- 
mission apparently under the Interior Department. They 
included also an item of $200,000 for an exhibition building 
which should be "capable of removal to Washington after 
the close of the Exhibition, to be used as a National Museum 
at the capital of the nation."^ Congress, however, saw fit to 
modify these plans and provided for the erection of a general 
government building, to be paid for pro rata from the ap- 
propriations of the several departments and bureaus, and to 
be sold at the close of the Exhibition. An appropriation 
of $67,000 was made for the Smithsonian Institution, and 
of $5000 for the Fish Commission, the provision for the 
National Museum being included in the former. When the 
several officers of the Board began to examine the situation 
in detail it became apparent that different bureaus would 
duplicate one another's exhibits unless some compromise were 
made. Accordingly the exhibits of the Institution, the Na- 
tional Museum, and the Fish Commission were merged into 
one comprehensive exhibit; while, on the other hand, the 
National Museum cooperated with the Indian Bureau of the 
Interior Department in an exhibit representing North Amer- 
ican anthropology. The combined exhibit was divided into 
five sections — Smithsonian Activities, "Animal Resources," 
Fisheries, Mineral Resources, Anthropology. 

In the preparation of the exhibits of "animal resources" 
and fisheries Professor Baird (then " Curator of the National 
Museum ") had the assistance of G. Brown Goode ("who held 
the position of Assistant Curator of the National Museum "), 
Tarleton H. Bean, and H. C. Chester; in ethnology, Charles 

1 "Smithsonian Report," 1875, page 59. 

The United States National Mtisenni 327 

Rau, Edward Foreman, and F. H. Gushing; in mineral re- 
sources, William P. Blake and Thomas Donaldson. 

When the idea of holding a great exhibition under the 
government was first put forth, both Secretary Henry and 
Professor Baird foresaw that the effect on the National 
Museum must be of the greatest moment. The objects 
purchased and exhibited by the government of the United 
States would find their final resting-place in the Museum, 
and many foreign governments and private exhibitors would 
doubtless present their exhibits to the United States, with 
the result that they also would find their way into the 

''The results of the operations of the Institution in con- 
nection with the Centennial Exhibition," wrote Professor 
Henry in 1875, "will probably have a much greater effect 
on the future of the establishment than is at first sight ap- 
parent. The large number of specimens which have been 
collected by the several Departments of Government and by 
the Institution itself in view of this Exhibition will greatly 
increase the contents of the National Museum, and if we add 
to these the specimens which will be presented by foreign 
powers, of which we have already had intimations, the num- 
ber will be swelled to an extent far beyond the capacity of 
the present building to contain them, and an additional edifice 
will be required for their accommodation, 

"In the consideration of this matter, the questions will arise 
whether the building required shall consist of an extension 
of the present Smithsonian edifice, or an entirely separate 
building; and these questions will involve another, viz., 
whether it is advisable to continue, at least without some 
modification, the connection which now exists between the 
Smithsonian Institution and the National Museum. 

"The Museum is destined to an extension far beyond its 
present magnitude. It is an object of much interest to all 
who visit the National Gapital, and is of great value as ex- 

328 The Smithsonian Institution 

hibiting the natural resources of the country, as well as a 
means of public education." 

Professor Baird, as Exhibition representative of the Institu- 
tion, wrote in the Report of the same year as follows: 

" It will, however, be readily understood that the Smith- 
sonian Building will be entirely inadequate to accommodate 
this collection on its return from Philadelphia, especially as 
even now it is overcrowded and packed from top to bottom 
with thousands of boxes, for the proper exhibition of the con- 
tents of which there is no space or opportunity at the present 
time. It is to be hoped that action at an early day will be 
taken by Congress looking toward a proper provision for this 
emergency, especially when it is realized that the materials 
are thus available for a National Museum that shall be equal, 
in its extent and completeness and in its educational advan- 
tages, to that of any nation in the world. 

"The collections made directly through the Government 
appropriations will also be very largely supplemented by the 
donation of series of American and foreign exhibitors, a very 
large proportion of which will be placed at the disposal of the 
United States Government." 

The anticipations of Henry and Baird were fully met. In 
the Report for the Centennial year Professor Baird wrote : 

" At no period in the history of the National Museum, from 
the time when it was organized to the present, has the in- 
crease been so great as during the year 1876."^ 

After referring to the accessions from the government ex- 
hibits, he remarks : 

" In addition, however, to the sources of increase to the 
Museum during the years 1875 and 1876, mentioned above, 
still another presented itself of perhaps even greater pro- 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1876, page 38. 






cue t- 



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witii thousands of boxes, for the prope 
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aced at the 

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The United States National Miisetim 329 

ductiveness, viz., acquisitions from foreign exhibits. With 
scarcely an exception, the best and most important of these 
were presented to the United States at the close of the exhi- 
bition, embracing, as they did, many complete series of objects, 
illustrating the geology, metallurgy, the ethnology, and the 
general resources of all nations. Of about forty governments 
and colonies, the choicest of the exhibits of thirty-four were 
presented to the Smithsonian Institution for the National 
Museum, the remainder either having nothing to give or 
being restricted in the disposal of their articles. 

** It was, however, not from foreign commissions alone that 
collections were received by the Institution. Several entire 
State exhibits and many belonging to private parties were 
also added to the general increase. Nevada, Montana, and 
Utah presented the whole of their mineral exhibits, while par- 
tial collections were received from several other States and 

The Reofcnts of the Institution submitted a memorial to 
Congress the same year (1876) asking an appropriation of 
$250,000 for a building for the National Museum. A bill 
was introduced, but failed of passage that year, and it was 
not until 1879 that the amount asked for was provided. 

As soon as the law was enacted a building commission ap- 
pointed by the Regents of the Institution was organized, con- 
sistino- of the resident members of the executive committee 
of the Institution (Honorable Peter Parker and General 
William T. Sherman) and Secretary Baird. General Sher- 
man was chosen as chairman and General M. C. Meisfs was 
invited to act as consulting engineer. 

The commission selected the firm of Cluss & Schulze, 
whose design for the building had been approved by Con- 
gress, as superintending architects, and received the benefit 
of the advice of Mr. Edward Clarke, architect of the Capitol. 

The erection of the building was begun April 17, 1879, and 

33^ The SmithsoiiiaJi Institution 

completed in 1881. In design the structure is of the type 
commonly employed for exhibition buildings, being entirely 
open above the ground floor. It covers a space of two and a 
third acres. On account of the relatively small amount ap- 
propriated for the building and the enormous growth of the 
national collections, it was necessary to use building materials 
of low cost and to cover in as much space as possible. The 
building is regarded as one of the cheapest of its size ever 
erected. While admirably adapted in most respects for the 
purpose for which it was built, it does not, of course, present, 
either externally or internally, an appearance as pleasing or 
diofnified as would have resulted from the use of a more ex- 
pensive system of construction and more costly materials. 

While the building was under construction. Congress de- 
cided that the United States Government should be repre- 
sented at the Berlin Fisheries Exhibition of 1880 by the Fish 
Commission. Professor Baird, then both Secretary of the In- 
stitution and Fish Commissioner, appointed G. Brown Goode, 
the Curator of the National Museum, as his deputy at the 
exhibition. By this fortunate combination of circumstances. 
Doctor Goode, the working head of the National Museum, 
was afforded an opportunity to study the museums of Ger- 
many and other parts of Europe, and brought home with him 
a knowledge of the most approved methods of installation of 
collections, labeling, and storage which was invaluable. Far 
more fortunate was it that the Museum at this critical time in 
its history had as its curator a man of such surpassing merit 
as the lamented editor of this volume. Gifted with a philo- 
sophical mind, a profound love of nature, a marvelously re- 
tentive memory, and untiring energy, he acquired a range of 
knowledge and a grasp of affairs which astonished his asso- 
ciates, while his modesty, gentleness, and love of fair play 
attracted to him and bound to his service men of the most 

The United States National Mnseiun 331 

diverse capacities and opinions. His genius was known to 
Secretary Baird, but hitherto he had not found a sufficiently 
wide field for the exercise of his powers. The reorganization 
of the Museum afforded an opportunity, and Baird gave him 
free scope for the development of his plans, aiding him as no 
one else could have done, from the stores of a lifetime of ex- 
perience along the same lines. 

Out of the heterogeneous materials accumulated by the 
government, especially as a result of the Centennial Exhibi- 
tion, Doctor Goode organized, under the approving guidance 
of Secretary Baird, a public museum of wide scope, attractive, 
instructive, orderly, and full of the elements of life. He elabo- 
rated with the greatest pains a philosophical and compre- 
hensive classification for the collections of the Museum, and 
planned a complete reorganization of the staff of curators 
and assistants. He devised an entirely new series of cases 
and other fixtures, for the installation of both the collections 
exhibited to the public and those reserved for the use of in- 
vestigators, adopting the best features then developed in 
European museums, and adding many of his own invention. 

This regeneration of the National Museum soon made 
itself felt in similar ororanizations throuQfhout the United 
States and in other parts of the world, and the methods of 
installation and labeling employed in Washington have 
been widely copied. 

The influence of the National Museum has not, however, 
stopped here. Already at the Berlin Fisheries Exhibition of 
1880, with the experience gained during the Centennial Exhi- 
bition, Doctor Goode was able to secure for the United States 
Fish Commission and the National Museum the Emperor's 
prize for the highest excellence of display. Not satisfied 
with this recognition, and always aiming to advance, he 
endeavored to install the exhibits of the Institution and Mu- 

33^ The Smithsonian Institution 

seum at later foreign and domestic exhibitions, in accordance 
with the best museum methods. As a result the exhibits of 
the Institution always won high praise, and it is not too much 
to say that the work of the National Museum in this direction 
has had a powerful influence in revolutionizing exhibition 
methods in America. 

Since the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, few years have 
passed in which the Museum has not been engaged in pre- 
paring for a public exposition of greater or less magnitude. 
It made displays at London in 1883, at Louisville in 1884, at 
Minneapolis in 1887, at Cincinnati and Marietta in 1888, at 
Madrid in 1892, at Chicago in 1893, and at Atlanta in 1895. 
The necessity of carrying on exhibition work outside of 
Washington has affected the National Museum in many 
ways. Probably no other great permanent museum in the 
world has had constantly before it the problem of guarding its 
treasures from deterioration, and at the same time transport- 
ing no inconsiderable portion of them thousands of miles and 
displaying them under the ordinarily unfavorable surround- 
ings of temporary exhibitions. The advantages lie in the 
direction of making the work of the Museum known to the 
people of the Republic and the world at large, and securing 
new objects with which to fill out the deficiencies in its vari- 
ous collections. The disadvantages are found in damage 
done to objects in the collections by breakage or otherwise, 
the interruption of the regular Museum work, and the dissi- 
pation of the energies of the scientific officers ; for a mu- 
seum, like any other permanent institution, requires abundant 
time and uninterrupted activity for its best development, and 
does not flourish in the midst of commotion and excitement. 

Thus far I have considered the National Museum in its 
historical aspects. It remains to explain briefly its function 

The United States National Miiseitm zzz 

and aims, and to mention the most notable objects in its 

It will be perceived, from the statements already made, that 
the Museum is essentially a natural development springing 
from the activities of the government, growing with their 
growth, and expanding with their expansion. It had its ori- 
gin in the great naval exploring expedition which the gov- 
ernment organized in the early part of the century, and found 
an important expansion in the long series of topographical 
surveys of the public domain, and geological surveys of later 
years. The scientific investigation of the primary indus- 
tries — agriculture, fisheries, and mining — by the govern- 
ment has also resulted in large additions to the Museum. 
Finally, the desire on the part of the government that the 
people should gain a better understanding of its practical 
workings, through representative displays of processes and 
objects in the great public exhibitions, has broadened the 
activities and increased the wealth of the Museum, both 
directly and indirectly; — directly, because the Museum has 
need to bestir itself to bring together and arrange exhibits 
which will be acceptable to the public ; indirectly, because 
the participation of the government of the United States often 
leads other governments to participate, and the exhibits of 
these, in greater or less proportion, are ultimately presented 
to the United States for its National Museum. 

The field of activities of the government has had a strong 
influence on the character of the collections of its National 
Museum. While European governments have been engaged 
in exploring new regions and founding colonies in distant 
sections of the globe, that of the United States has confined 
its attention almost exclusively to North America. The col- 
lections of the National Museum, therefore, are predomin- 
antly North American. Leaving out of consideration the 


334 The Sjiiithsoriimi Institution 

important foreigri collections of a few early expeditions, and 
those resulting from the deep-sea investigations of the United 
States Fish Commission, the additions in this direction have 
chiefly come from the activities of private explorers, by gift 
of foreign governments at expositions, by exchange of speci- 
mens, and only in a few instances by purchase. 

In the organic law of the Smithsonian Institution already 
cited it is provided that 

" In proportion as suitable arrangements can be made for 
their reception, all objects of art and of foreign and curious 
research, and all objects of natural history, plants, and geo- 
logical and mineralogical specimens belonging, or hereafter 
to belong to the United States, which may be in the city of 
Washington, in whosesoever custody the same may be, shall 
be delivered to such persons as may be authorized by the 
Board of Regents to receive them, and shall be arranged in 
such order and so classed as best to facilitate the examina- 
tion and study of them." 

In the act of June 30, 1880, making appropriations for the 
sundry civil expenses of the government, it is enacted that 
''all collections of rocks, minerals, soils, fossils, and objects 
of natural history, archaeology, and ethnology, made by the 
Coast and Interior Survey, the Geological Survey, or by any 
other parties for the government of the United States, when 
no longer needed for investigations in progress, shall be 
deposited in the National Museum."^ 

In the same year, as we have said. Congress appropriated 
money " for a fire-proof building, y^r tJie use of the National 

As may be seen from the statutes cited, the National Mu- 
seum is the recognized depository for all objects of scientific 
and artistic interest and value which come into the possession 

1 Statutes United States Forty-fifth Congress, third session, chapter 182, page 394. 

The United States National Miiseiun 335 

of the government. Its function is to preserve these treasures 
perpetually and to administer the collections in such a man- 
ner as to render them of the highest service to research and 
education. In pursuance of these ends it exhibits a portion 
of the collections for public inspection and instruction; an- 
other portion it assembles in laboratories for the use of 
investigators. Out of the surplus accumulations it selects 
series of specimens for distribution to educational institutions, 
and it encourages publications which will make its treasures 
known to the world. Of these latter activities it will be 
necessary to speak somewhat more in detail before closing, 
and I will return to them presently. It is desirable to 
point out here the fact, which will become evident to any 
one upon reflection, that an institution such as the National 
Museum, with its facilities for investigation and its corps 
of trained specialists, soon becomes a center of intellectual 
activity, attracting to itself students and sava7its, and being 
called upon to impart technical information and advice. 
In these lines lies no inconsiderable part of its labor and 

It is to be said further that the Museum of to-day, owing in 
part to a natural development, and in part to the labors of a 
few advanced leaders, among whom none have rendered more 
important service than the late Doctor Goode, is no longer con- 
tent with a passive existence, but strives, by the arrangement 
of its collections, by its labels, its hand-books and other 
publications, and its lectures, to impart instruction of a def- 
inite character and in definite lines. It assembles great col- 
lections of natural objects and treasures of art not merely to 
satisfy idle curiosity, but to diffuse knowledge among men. 
Thus it allies itself to the university and the library, and 
must be counted among the chief agencies for the spread 
of culture. 

33^ The Smithsonian Institution 

To describe in detail all the more important objects in the 
National Museum would require more space than can be de- 
voted to such an enumeration in this volume, but it will be of 
interest to point out the chief excellences of the collections 
and to mention some of the treasures. 

The collections are at present divided among the following 
Departments and Sections : 

Zoological Departments : Mammals, Birds (with a Section 
of Birds' Eggs), Reptiles and Batrachians, Fishes, Mollusks, 
Insects, Marine Invertebrates (with a Section of Parasitic 
Worms), Comparative Anatomy. 

A Botanical Department. 

Geological Departments : Geology, Mineralogy, and Pale- 

Anthropological Departments: Prehistoric Anthropology, 
Ethnology (with a section of American Pueblo Collections), 
Oriental Antiquities. 

A Department of "Arts and Industries," with the following 
sections at present: Historical Relics, Transportation and 
Engineering, Naval Architecture, Physical Apparatus, Elec- 
trical Collections, Technological Collections, Materia Medica, 
Forestry, and Graphic Arts. 

The Department of Mammals comprises the collection of 
the Wilkes Exploring Expedition and of the numerous geo- 
graphical and geological surveys of the public domain, in- 
cluding the type-specimens of species described by Baird in 
his great work on North American mammals, and numerous 
types of J. A. Allen, Elliott Coues, Harrison Allen, and other 
American naturalists. The collections from the Mexican 
boundary recently made by Doctor E. A. Mearns, U. S. A., 
are large and of high scientific value.^ 

1 The very extensive series of North Amer- Hart Merriam, the finest ever assembled, is 
ican mammals made by the United States deposited in the Museum building and cata- 
Department of Agriculture under Doctor C. logued in its registers. 

The United States National Museum zzi 

A series of casts of porpoises and other cetaceans, includ- 
ing a young humpback whale, forms a unique feature of the 

The representation of foreign mammals, though deficient in 
many directions, includes a considerable number of type-spe- 
cimens, and some important local collections, chief among 
which are those from German East Africa and from Kash- 
mir and Eastern Turkestan, made and presented by Doctor 
William L. Abbott. 

The collection of skulls of North American mammals is 
probably unrivaled elsewhere in extent, and the Department 
also contains a large alcoholic series. 

Of the Department of Birds, the Curator, Mr. Robert Ridg- 
way, writes : 

"Among the most important collections and single objects 
contained in the Department of Birds are the following : 

" (i) The collections made by the Wilkes Exploring Expe- 
dition, the various Pacific Railroad Surveys, the Mexican 
Boundary Survey, the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth 
Parallel, the Geological Survey of the Territories, Geo- 
graphical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian, 
the United States Astronomical Expedition (Gilliss), and 
various other government expeditions.-^ 

" (2) The collection made by Colonel A. J. Grayson in 
Western Mexico, including the Tres Marias and Revilla- 
Gigedo Islands ; collections made by Professor F. Sumichrast 
on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and by Professor C. Sartorius 
in the State of Vera Cruz, Mexico ; collections made by 
F. A. Ober in the various islands of the Lesser Antilles. 

" (3) The collections made by the United States Fish Com- 
mission during a cruise of the steamer Albatross around Cape 
Horn and in the Bahamas. 

IThe valuable collections of birds made Merriam in the United States and Mexico 
by the United States Department of Agiicul- are deposited in the Museum building, as in 
ture under the direction of Doctor C. Hart the case of the mammals. 

338 The Smithsonian Institution 

" (4) Specimens from Audubon's collection, among them a 
considerable number of types of his new species, that is, spe- 
cimens from which the descriptions and colored plates in his 
great work were taken. These formed part of Professor 
Baird's private collection, to whom they were given by Mr. 

" (5) The private collection of Professor Baird, numbering 
nearly 4000 specimens, which formed the nucleus, or begin- 
ning, of the present national collection. 

" (6) Other private collections donated to the National 

" (7) The collections made by Doctor William L. Abbott in 
Eastern Africa, Madagascar, etc., generously presented to 
the National Museum and embracing a very large number of 
species entirely new to the Museum collection, many of them 
being new to science. These collections of Doctor Abbott, 
moreover, represent practically all that the Museum possesses 
from the countries named. 

" (8) The collection of several thousand specimens from 
various parts of the world, presented by Mr. A. Boucard, of 
Spring Vale, Isle of Wight, England. 

" (9) Extinct Birds : Great Auk (one specimen), Labrador 
Duck (several), Guadelupe Caracara (good series, old and 
young), and Philip Island Parrot, the latter purchased for the 
Museum by Doctor William L. Ralph, of Utica, New York. 

"(10) Very rare species, or those nearly extinct, as the 
Carolina Paroquet, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Black-capped 
and Jamaican Petrels, Hawaiian Coot, Cuban Macaw, Peale's 
Sandpiper (several specimens, the only ones known to exist 
in collections), and numerous other species. 

"(11) Unique types, such as Fisher's Petrel, Townsend's 
Bunting, Cooper's Sandpiper, Cooper's Hen- Hawk, Riker's 

"The National Museum collection of North American birds 
is by far the most complete in existence, and is the basis of 
every important work on North American birds since Audu- 
bon's time. That of the birds of the West Indies is also the 
most important, although exceeded greatly in number by that 

The United States National Mttseum 339 

of Mr. C. B. Cory, now the property of the Field Columbian 
Museum, in Chicago, Illinois. That of Central American and 
South American birds is exceeded in extent and value only 
by the British Museum's series of birds from the same region, 
and has been freely used by Messrs. Sclater, Salvin, God- 
man, Count von Bcrlepsch, and others in their various pub- 
lications on neotropical birds, and is also largely the basis of 
Professor Baird's 'Review of American Birds.' 

" Museums throughout the world have been supplied with 
American birds by the United States National Museum, and 
the existing specimens of several species, such as the Roseate 
Gull, Greenland Redpoll, and several Alaskan species, have 
mainly, — in some cases exclusively, — been distributed by 
the National Museum. 

" It can safely be said that no collection of birds in the 
world compares with that of the United States National 
Museum in value or importance as a basis for scientific inves- 
tigation already accomplished or yet to be done, since as 
many species as possible, with the facilities at command, are 
represented by large series of specimens from all parts of 
their geographical range, and of all known variations de- 
pendent on climate, sex, age, or other circumstances. 

"The unparalleled collection of North American birds' 
eggs in the United States National Museum is the result of 
many years' growth. In the early years of the Institution 
Professor Baird interested the naturalists of the various 
government surveys and members of the Hudson Bay Fur 
Company in the subject, and from them (and especially 
the latter) thousands of eggs were received. Mr. R. Mc- 
Farlane^ was particularly active, and with him were associ- 
ated B. R. Ross, James Lockhart, John Reid, M. INIcLeod, 
A. McKenzie, and others, who sent not only eggs, but large 
collections of other kinds. The Institution sent Robert Ken- 
nicott to Arctic America in 1859, where he remained three 
years, collecting the natural productions of the region, and 
with them many eggs of Arctic birds. 

1 See his report in "Proceedings of the United States National Museum," Volume XIV, 

pages 413-446. 

340 The Smithsonian Institution 

"Naturalists visiting Alaska and Labrador also made large 
contributions to the oological collections. The eggs of the 
rare Northern water-birds and waders so difficult to obtain 
for private collections were thus sent (often in large series) to 
the Institution. 

"In 1884 Major Bendire added to the already large collec- 
tion his unrivaled series of eggs of Western birds, obtained 
during twenty-five years of duty in the Territories, This 
collection numbered eight thousand or more beautifully pre- 
pared specimens. From that time till his death Major Ben- 
dire was untiring in his efforts to obtain the desiderata of the 
collection. More recently Doctor William L. Ralph, of Utica, 
New York, has presented his magnificent collection of eggs 
to the Institution, and is now actively engaged in filling gaps 
in the series, 

"To mention specifically all the rarities in the North 
American series of the oological department would be an 
almost endless task; a few of the more important ones are 
the following : 

"Great Auk, i Qgg\ Heermann's Gull, 2 eggs; Craveri's 
Murrelet, 2 eggs; Jabiru, i &gg\ Purple, Aleutian, Coues's, 
Baird's, Pectoral, White-rumped, and Curlew Sandpipers; 
Sanderling, 2 specimens (McFarlane); Heath Hen, one speci- 
men ; Passenger Pigeon, about thirty eggs ; California Vul- 
ture, I &gg; Harlan's, Krider's, and Short-tailed Hawks; 
Peale's, Richardson's, and Aplomado falcons ; Elf, Flammu- 
lated, and Californian Pigmy Owls; Carolina Paroquet; 
Ivory-billed Woodpecker; White-throated and Vaux's Switts; 
Clarke's Nutcracker, several eggs; Western Evening-Gros- 
beak; American and Mexican Crossbills; Pribilof Snowflake, 
several eggs. Among the rare warblers may be mentioned : 
Brewster's, Virginia's, Lucy's, Cape May, Olive, Sennett's, 
Grace's, Townsend's, Hermit, Golden-cheeked, Gray, and 
Connecticut Warblers ; Rio Grande and Belding's Yellow. 
throats; Red-faced Warblers, 

"Of foreign eggs may be mentioned those of the Kamts- 
chatkan Sea Eagle and the Ouesal ; also various series of eggs, 
like those collected by Doctor Jerome H. Kidder on Kerguelen 

The United States National Museum 341 

Island, Doctor William L. Abbott in Africa, Seychelles Isl 
ands, Asia, etc. On some of these reports have been made 

" 1 

Of the Department of Reptiles and Batrachians, the Cura- 
tor, Doctor Leonhard Stejneger, remarks : 

" The distinctive characteristic of the reptile collection in the 
Museum is in the completeness with which it illustrates the 
geographical distribution and morphology of the species in- 
habiting North America. In this respect it stands unrivaled. 
As the depository of the types of the species described by 
Baird, Girard, Kennicott, Cope, and other distinguished 
American herpetologists it also takes first rank. 

" The importance of the individual collections must there- 
fore be judged with reference to their richness in such types 
and the advance in our knowledge of the reptiles and batra- 
chians of this continent that has ensued. The collections 
which have undoubtedly contributed most in these respects 
are those of the Pacific Railroad Surveys, the first Mexican 
United States Boundary Survey, and the Wilkes Exploring 

The collections of fishes are almost exclusively North Amer- 
ican, with one notable exception in the case of the deep-sea 
fishes dredged by the United States Fish Commission 
steamer Albatross in the North Atlantic and North Pacific. 
The latter collection is of equal importance with that of the 
Challenger expedition, if it does not surpass the same, and 
formed the basis of the recent work of Doctor Goode and 
Doctor Bean on " Oceanic Ichthyology." 

The Department contains the most extensive collections of 
fresh-water and littoral fishes of the United States anywhere 

1 " Contributions to the Natural History of of Nests and Eggs of Some New Birds, col- 

Kerguelen Island, made in connection with lected on the Island of Aldabra, Northwest 

the American Transit of Venus Expedition, of Madagascar, by Doctor W. L. Abbott." 

lS74-'75," lacing Bulletin No. 3, United Proceedings of the United States National 

States National Museum. Also" Description Museum, Volume xvii, 1894, pages 39-41. 

342 The Smithsonian Institution 

assembled, consisting chiefly of the great series formed by the 
United States Fish Commission, supplemented by the collec- 
tions of many American naturalists. The collection of Alas- 
kan fishes is very large, and is not extensively duplicated 

The series of fishes collected in connection with the Pacific 
Railroad Surveys and the first Mexican Boundary Survey 
are of special importance as containing the types of a large 
proportion of the species of the middle and western United 
States. They have been supplemented in recent years by 
important series collected under the auspices of the Fish 
Commission and by private collectors. 

The Department contains also many single specimens of 
great value, which have been made the basis of new families 
and genera. 

Regarding the Department of Mollusks, Mr. William H. 
Dall, the Honorary Curator, writes as follows : 

" The collection of mollusks was founded primarily upon 
the specimens gathered by the United States Exploring Ex- 
pedition under Wilkes during 1838-42, which formed the 
types of the folio volume on the mollusks and shells by Doc- 
tor A. A. Gould, included in the series of United States 
Exploring Expedition reports published by Congress. To 
these were added the types of the mollusks of the North 
Pacific Exploring Expedition under Ringgold and Rodgers, 
collected by Doctor William Stimpson, and described by 
Gould. The collections were very rich and valuable, for the 
time, but underwent serious vicissitudes before and after be- 
ing received by the Smithsonian Institution previous to the 
organization of the museum, so that the series as it now 
exists is by no means complete. Nevertheless these shells 
form an interesting and important portion of the collection. 

" Next in point of number and value comes the collection, 

The United States National Mtisettm 343 

especially of Unionidae, given by Doctor Isaac Lea, and 
subsequently enriched by his son-in-law and daughter, the 
Reverend and Mrs. L. T. Chamberlain. This collection is, 
in its specialties, the freshwater mussels of the world, unri- 
valed for extent and value, comprising an enormous number 
of types and having full data in relation to the habitat, etc., 
in nearly every case. 

"Almost as important for the mollusks of Great Britain, 
Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, and especially for the 
various deep-sea dredging expeditions sent out under British 
auspices before the Challenger expedition, is the Jeffreys 
collection, purchased from Doctor J. Gwyn Jeffreys, and 
comprising the results of nearly half a century of active 
collecting, exchanging, and purchase — in all some 25,000 
lots of specimens, by far the most important and complete 
series of British shells in existence, and forming the basis 
of some hundred publications. 

" The fauna of West America, both littoral and deep- 
sea mollusks, is represented by the combined collections of 
Robert E. C. Stearns, William H. Dall, the United States 
steamer Albatross of the Fish Commission, the Arctic cruis- 
ers of the United States Revenue Marine, and many private 
donations, in all representing the most complete existing rep- 
resentation of the fauna, with full data in nearly every case. 

" The fauna of the east coast of North America is repre- 
sented by the unrivaled collections of the United States Fish 
Commission, augmented by a series of those of the Blake 
and many private collectors in the West Indies and on our 
southern coast. 

"The land and freshwater shells of North America, apart 
from the freshwater mussels, are represented by the best 
existing collection derived from many sources, including 
types of Binney and Bland, Lea, Lewis, Dall, Stimpson, and 
many others. 

"To sum up, the collection of mollusks has the best series 
in the world, supplied with the fullest data, in the modern 
sense, of the land, freshwater, shore, and deep-sea mollusks 
of North America, the Arctic regions, the North Atlantic and 

344 The Smithsonian Institution 

Pacific and the British Islands. In the total number of spe- 
cimens, the collection is the largest in the world, including 
over six hundred thousand specimens of dry shells and five 
thousand jars of alcoholic molluscan material. The collection 
of Cenozoic fossil shells comprises the largest existing series 
of the tertiary fauna of the United States ; and probably the 
largest series of Antillean tertiary shells in any museum, though 
much remains to be done in naming and classifying the fossil 

" It may be said without fear of contradiction, that for the 
regions mentioned, the Department of Mollusks is unrivaled, 
not only in the amount and variety of material it contains, 
but especially in the full and correct data recorded in respect 
to the specimens, and which gives to them a really scientific 
value, which is wanting in most of the great collections of the 
world, which were mostly made at a period when the impor- 
tance of such data was not fully recognized. No other col- 
lection contains nearly as many American and British type 
specimens ; and only the British Museum rivals ours in the 
number of species represented from the whole world. No 
other collection has so large a representation of deep-sea 
mollusks and brachiopods, for the study of which the National 
collection is indispensable." 

Of the Department of Insects, Doctor L. O. Howard, the 
Honorary Curator, writes : 

"Taking the collection as a whole, and aside from the con- 
sideration of the individual collections of which it is composed, 
I should say that its most important features are, first, the 
rapidly accumulating number of types in all orders, amounting 
already to more than thirty-five hundred species; and second, 
the biologic features of the collection, due largely to the fact 
that the original deposit by Doctor Riley was mainly biologic in 
its character, and to the further fact that the biologic accumu- 
lations of the United States Department of Agriculture for 
seventeen years, which have been very great, are now in the 
possession of the Museum. 

The United States National Museum 345 

"The subjoined statement refers to the source of the 
different collections now brought together. Looking at the 
collection as a whole, however, the departments which stand 
out conspicuously are {a) the collection of North American 
Noctuidae (probably the most complete in existence), {b) the 
collection of Parasitic Hymenoptera (undoubtedly the largest 
collection of bred specimens in the world), {c) the Orthop- 
terous family, Acrididre, {d) the Homopterous families Coc- 
cidae, AphididcX, and Psyllidre (without doubt the largest 
accumulation of North American species), (e) the Dipterous 
families Syrphidse and Empidae, {/) the collection of Myri- 

"The Department is at present in excellent working con- 
dition. It contains a very great amount of material in all 
orders, and in many unusual directions surpasses any collec- 
tion in the country. Among others the following are of special 
interest : 

" I. The large collection, in all orders, of Doctor C. V. 

" 2. All of the material gathered during the past eighteen 
years by correspondents, field agents, and the office staff of 
the Division of Entomology, United States Department of 

" 3. The greater part of the collection of Asa Fitch. 

"4. The large collection, in all orders, of G. W. Belfrage. 

" 5. The collections in Lepidoptera and Coleoptera made by 
Doctor John B, Smith down to 1889, together with the types 
of the Noctuidae since described by Doctor Smith. 

"6. The collection of Lepidoptera of O. Meske. 

" 7. The collection of Lepidoptera of G. Beyer. 

"8. The collection of Coleoptera of M. L. Linell. 

" 9. The bulk of the collection, in all orders, of H. K. Mor- 

" 10. The collection of Diptera of Edward Burgess. 

" II. The type collection of Syrphidae made by Doctor S. 
W. Willision. 

" 12. The collection of Lxodidae of Doctor George Marx. 


346 The SniitJisoiiian Institution 

" 13. The collection of Myriopoda of C. H. Bollman. 

" 14. Sects of the neotropical collections of Herbert H. 

" 15. The collection of Hymenoptera of William J, Fox. 

" 16. The collection of Tineina of William Beutenmiiller. 

" 17. The large Japanese collection, in all orders, of Doctor 
K. Mitsukuri. 

" 18. The African collections, in all orders, of Doctor W. L. 
Abbott, William Astor Chanler, J. F. Brady, the Eclipse 
expedition of 1889-90 to West Africa, and of several mis- 

" 19. The large collection from South California of D. W. 
Coquillett, in Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, and 

" 20. The Townend Glover manuscripts and plates. 

" In addition to this material, there are minor collections 
which have been the result of the work of government ex- 
peditions, or are gifts from United States Consuls and many 
private individuals." 

The most beautiful, and in many respects the most im- 
portant, of the numerous series in the Department of Marine 
Invertebrates is the collection of corals made by the United 
States Exploring Expedition, and described by Dana. It 
includes many types of new forms. The great deep-sea col- 
lections from the North Atlantic and North Pacific made by 
the United States Fish Commission deserves notice; as do also 
the exhaustive collections from the New England coast and 
the Fishing Banks, and from the west coast of Alaska, re- 
ceived from the same source. All the collections are very 
rich in the types of new species and higher groups. 

Among the notable specimens in the Department of Com- 
parative Anatomy should be mentioned the skulls and partial 

The United States National Mtisenm 347 

skeletons of the great extinct Arctic Seacow (Rytina) ; several 
skeletons of huge Galapagos Tortoises ; and an unrivaled 
series of bones of the Great Auk. The collection is rich in 
skulls and skeletons of the various species of porpoises. 

In the Department of Geology the following series and 
separate objects are pointed out by Doctor George P. Merrill 
as deserving special mention : 

" I. The Leadville (Colorado) collections of rocks and ores, 
comprising some three hundred and eighty specimens, illus- 
trating the work of S. F. Emmons and Whitman Cross. ^ 

" 2. The Washoe collections, comprising one hundred and 
ninety-eight specimens as selected and studied by George F. 
Becker. ^ 

" 3. The collections of the Fortieth Parallel Survey. These 
comprise some three thousand specimens of eruptive and sedi- 
mentary rocks collected by members of the Fortieth Parallel 
Survey, under the direction of Clarence King, in 1867-73. 
The eruptive rocks of the series were described by Professor 
Ferdinand Zirkel. ^ 

"4. The Hawes collections. These comprise some three 
hundred and fifty specimens of eruptive altered rocks, repre- 
senting in part the work done by Doctor Hawes in connection 
with the New Hampshire surveys.* It also includes the 
small fragments described in his paper^ on the Albany granites 
and their contact phenomena. 

" 5. The Pacific Slope Quicksilver collections. These 
comprise several hundred small specimens (mostly 4x6 cm.), 
rocks and ores from the quicksilver regions of the locality 
above noted, as collected and described by G. F, Becker^ 

1 Emmons, Samuel Franklin. "Geology States Geological Explorations of the For- 

and Mining Industry of Leadville, Colorado, tieth Parallel, Volume vi, 1876. 

with Atlas." Monograph xii of the United 4 "The Geology of New Hampshire." 

States Geological Survey, 1886. Concord, 1878, Volume III, Part iv. 

'^" Geology of the Comstock Lode and the 5 American Journal of Science, 1881, Vol- 
Washoe District, with Atlas." Monograph ume XXI, pages 21-32. 
Ill of the U. S. Geological Survey, 1S82. 6 Monograph XIII of the United States 

3 " Microscopic Petrography." United Geological Survey, 1 886. 


The Smithsonian Institution 

and colleagues in ' Geology of the Quicksilver Deposits of the 
Pacific Slope.' 

** 6, Pigeon Point collections. These comprise four hun- 
dred specimens illustrating various contact phenomena as 
occurring at Pigeon Point, on the north shore of Lake 
Superior, and as described by Professor W. S. Bailey in a 
bulletin ^ of the United States Geological Survey. 

" 7. Menominee Valley and Marquette River collections. 
These comprise two hundred and fifty-four specimens illus- 
trative of the dynamic metamorphism of eruptive rocks as 
described by Professor George H. Williams. ^ 

" 8. The Eureka (Nevada) collection, comprising some 
five hundred and six specimens, rocks and ores, as studied 
and described by Arnold, Hague, ^ Whitman Cross, and J. S. 

"9. The Cripple Creek (Colorado) collections. These 
comprise some eight hundred specimens of rocks and ores. 
The material studied by Whitman Cross and R. A. F. Pen- 
rose and described in their report on the ' Geology and 
Mining Industry of the Cripple Creek District.'^ 

" 10. The Silver Cliff collections, comprising three hundred 
specimens of rocks and ores. The collection upon which is 
based the report by Whitman Cross and R. A. F. Penrose. 

" II. The Tenth Census collection of Building and Orna- 
mental Stone comprises some three thousand specimens, 
mainly in the form of four-inch cubes, and two thousand thin 
sections.^ These formed the basis of the results criven in ' The 
Collection of Building and Ornamental Stones; a Handbook 
and Catalogue.' '^ 

1" The Empire and Sedimentary Rocks on 
Pigeon Point, Minnesota, and their Contact 
Phenomena." 1S93. Bulletin, No. 109. 

2 " The Greenstone Schist Areas of the Me- 
nominee and Marquette Regions of Michi- 
gan." 1890. Bulletin No. 62 of the United 
States Geological Survey. 

3 Hague, Arnold. " Geology of the Eureka 
District, Nevada, with Atlas." 1892. Mono- 
graph XX of the United States Geological 

4 Curtis, Joseph Story. " Silver-lead De- 
posits of Eureka, Nevada, 1SS4." Monograph 
VII of the United States Geological Survey. 

6 Sixteenth Annual Report of the United 
States Geological Survey, Part II, 1894-95. 

6 Merrill, George P. Special Reports on 
Petroleum, Coke, and Building Stones, Tenth 
Census of the United States, 1880, Vol- 
ume X. 

7 Report United States National Museum, 
1886, page 277. 

The United States National Mttsenm 349 

"12. The Tenth Census collection of Iron Ores, compris- 
ing" some two thousand two hundred hand specimens and five 
hundred and six thin sections. This formed the basis of Pro- 
fessor Raphael Pumpelly's report.^ 

" 13. The collection illustrating Kirkaldy's experimental 
inquiry into the mechanical properties of Fagersta steel. 

" 14. Collections from the Archaean Division of the United 
States Geological Survey made in Vermont and Massachu- 
setts, and forming the basis of the petrographic work to be 
published in a forthcoming monograph.^ 

"Among the materials of greatest historical importance 
may be mentioned : 

" (^.) A mass of iron smelted by members of the Frobisher 
expedition during their stay at Frobisher Bay in 1578. 

** ibi) A piece of metallic tin smelted by Doctor T. C. Jack- 
son in 1840 from ore found at Jackson, Carroll County, New 
Hampshire, and believed to have been the first tin smelted in 

" (^.) The first steel car axle made in America and bent 

" id.) Copper medal. Struck from the first copper pro- 
duced in Colorado in 1866. 

" (^.) Placer gold. First gold discovered in California, 
from tail-race two hundred yards below the mill, panned 
by J. W. Marshall on the evening of the 19th and 20th of 
January, 1848. Marshall's Claim, Sutter's Mill, Coloma, 
El Dorado County, California. 

" (yi) Sample of petroleum from the first flowing well in 
the United States. Drilled in 1829 near Burkesville, Ken- 

"Amons: the more strikino^ collections of the exhibition 
series may be mentioned the one illustrating limestone cav- 
erns and associated phenomena. This includes not only a 
large and variegated series of stalagmitic and stalactitic min- 

1 Report on the Mining Industries of the United States, with special investigations into 

the iron resources of the Republic, and into the cretaceous coals of the 
Northwest. Volume xv., Washington, 1886. 

2 See also Thirteenth and Fourteenth Annual Reports of the United States Geological Survey. 


350 TJie Smithsonian Institution 

erals, but also representative forms of animal life such as 
inhabit caverns. The collection as a whole is doubtless the 
most complete and systematic of its kind in any museum in 
the world. 

" In the economic section are very full and systematic 
collections illustrating the mineral resources of the United 
States, arranged geographically, and also a systematic series 
in which minerals of the same nature and from world-wide 
sources are arranged by kinds. This collection comprises 
probably not fewer than ten thousand specimens." 

Mr. F. V. Coville, Honorary Curator of the Department 
of Botany, furnishes the following brief account of the collec- 
tion of plants : 

" With reference to the collections in the Department of 
Botany, it may be said that they constitute what is commonly 
known as the National Herbarium. The nucleus of the 
herbarium consisted of the plants collected by the Wilkes Ex- 
ploring Expedition during the years 1838 to 1842. To these 
were added later the material from the North Pacific Explor- 
ing Expedition of Ringgold and Rodgers, followed by those 
of Fremont, the Mexican Boundary Commission, the Pacific 
Railroad Surveys, and all the later explorations and expedi- 
tions of the government, 

"In recent years the largest amount of material received has 
come from the Division of Botany in the Department of Agri- 
culture, material brought together in the pursuit of the investi- 
gations of that establishment. Especially noteworthy among 
these is the collection of grasses which Doctor George Vasey 
gathered during his studies of the forage plants of the United 
States during a period of about twenty years. 

" To the collections of the exploring expeditions and those 
of the Department of Agriculture has been added a large 
amount of material donated by American botanists or pur- 
chased from collectors, besides large consignments of plants 
received from various foreign institutions or individuals prin- 
cipally as gifts or in exchange. 

The United States National Museum 351 

"The collections of the exploring expeditions and the col- 
lection of grasses are especially rich in type-specimens. 

" Mention should be made of the collections of George 
Joad, comprising about ten thousand species of representa- 
tive plants of the globe, more especially those of Europe ; and 
the collection of Professor Lester F. Ward, comprising the 
specimens on which his " Flora of Washington and Vicinity " 
is based, in addition to important collections made by Profes- 
sor Ward and his correspondents in other parts of the United 
States. Both the Ward and the Joad collections were ac- 
quired by the museum in 1885." 

The important collections of the Department of Minerals 
are summarized by Mr. Wirt Tassin, Assistant Curator, as 
follows : 

" At the request of Professor F. W. Clarke, the Honorary 
Curator, I have prepared, and transmit herewith, a list of some 
of the most important collections and single objects in the Min- 
eral Department. They are: 

" The Isaac Lea collections, including a collection of min- 
erals, a collection of micas and quartzes, and a collection of 
gems and ornamental stones, among which may be noted as 
of especial interest a fine green tourmaline of fifty-seven car- 
ats, a red specimen of eighteen carats and a hair-brown one 
of sixteen carats, from Mount Mica, Paris, Maine. A doubly 
terminated emerald crystal from Stony Point, Alexander 
County, North Carolina, one of the largest ever found, meas- 
uring three and one-tenth by two inches and weighing eight 
ounces and three pennyweights. A crystal ball cut from 
North Carolina quartz. A silver nugget weighing four hun- 
dred and forty-eight ounces, from near Globe, Arizona. One 
of the largest known cut Ceylon essonites. Four large Cey- 
lon asteria. A fine suite of opals in argillaceous limonite, 
Baracoo river, Queensland. 

" The Leidy collection of minerals, received from the United 
States Geological Survey. 

" A series illustratingf the occurrence and associations of 

352 TJie Smithsoniaii Ijistitiition 

the zinc and lead minerals of Southwest Missouri, collected 
by W. P. Jenney. 

" A series illustrating the mineralogy of the Pikes Peak 
region collected by Whitman Cross, of the United States 
Geological Survey. 

"A series of original and type zeolites from Table Moun- 
tain, Gunnison County, Colorado, collected by Whitman 
Cross, of the United States Geological Survey. 

" A series of uranium minerals used in the work leading to 
the discovery of nitrogen in uraninite and later of argon, 
given by Doctor W. F. Hillebrand. 

"A series of copper carbonates from Copper Queen Mine, 
Arizona, a gift of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining 
Company, through James Douglas, President. 

" A series of azurite crystals and associated minerals from 
the copper regions of Arizona, together with a series of van- 
adium minerals from New Mexico, collected by Doctor W. 
F. Hillebrand. 

** A series illustrating the occurrence and association of the 
zinc minerals of New Jersey, collected by Wirt Tassin. 

"The type-specimens of warrenite. 

" A slab of sodalite, size two by two inches ; a polished slab 
of labradorite, two by two inches ; a slab of calcite crystals 
four by four inches ; two large sections of agatized wood from 
Arizona, deposited by the Drake Company ; the ' Ontona- 
gon ' copper boulder; a series of Sicilian sulphur crystals; 
the Shepard collections of meteorites ; the Ring or Irwin 
meteorite; a suite of meteoric irons from Caiion Diablo, Ari- 
zona, varying in weight from 964 pounds to a few ounces. 

" To the list may be added the Stroud collection, the Hawes 
collection, the Abert collection, the various accessions received 
at different times from the United States Geological Survey, 
and other smaller collections containing valuable material of 
scientific and other importance." 

Of the Department of Paleontology, Mr. Charles Schuchert, 
Assistant Curator, writes : 

The United States National Museum 353 

" The feature of greatest importance is that much of our 
material has served in government reports, and is the basis 
for the geological and paleontological work treating of the 
western part of our country. This fact is well exemplified in 
the great number of species which have served in description 
and illustration, many of which are the original type-speci- 
mens. There are of such species five thousand seven hun- 
dred and forty-one. These are distributed in the sections of 
this department as follows : 

Paleozoic Invertebrate species 1^55 

Mesozoic " *' 1024 

Cenozoic Invertebrate species 1304 

Vertebrate species 161 
Paleozoic plant species (Lacoe collection) 504 

Mesozoic and Cenozoic plant species 1531 

Insect species 62 

"The most complete series is the 'Lacoe collection of 
American Paleozoic plants,' the labeled specimens of which 
alone number upwards of eighteen thousand, and of these 
more than five hundred species have been described or illus- 
trated by Lesquereux and White. This magnificent collec- 
tion is the result of many years' accumulation, and cost 
upwards of $50,000. It was donated to this museum in 
1 89 1, by Mr. R. D. Lacoe, of Pittston, Pennsylvania. 

"The collection of Cambrian fossils is very large, and 
when Mr. Walcott shall have completed his studies upon this 
material, it will be the most complete and valuable series of 
fossils of this system extant. 

" The Cretaceous collection is also quite extensive and 
represents much work by F. B. Meek, C. A. White, and 
T. W. Stanton. 

"The Tertiary collection of Mollusca is one of the conspic- 
uous features of this department. This collection was accu- 
mulated chiefly by William H. Dall. 

"Among single objects the following deserve mention: 

"A composite slab of Lower Carboniferous fossils measur- 
ing four by six feet, and showing in high relief one hundred 
and six crinoids (sixteen species) and other tossils. 

354 The Smithsonian Institution 

"A Lepidodendron trunk three feet wide and thirty feet 
long (Lacoe collection). 

" A series of six cycad trunks from the Lower Cretaceous 
of South Dakota. 

" Bones representing a nearly complete Zeuglodon cetoides 
from the Eocene of Alabama, and of which a life-sized restora- 
tion is exhibited. 

" Skulls and limb bones of the huge Cretaceous Dinosaur, 
Triceraiops, from Wyoming. 

"An excellent skeleton of the Irish Elk, Megaceros hiber- 
nicus, Owen." 

The collections of the Department of Prehistoric Anthro- 
pology are thus described by the Curator, Doctor Thomas 
Wilson : 

''There are three great stages of culture, or civilization, 
represented in this Department, which are separated and 
installed according to locality. 

"The first, and probably the earliest, is that of Western 
Europe, of which the museum possesses an extensive col- 
lection, the largest in the United States, showing the culture 
of prehistoric man, from the earliest times down to the 
Bronze Age and the Etruscans, where it joins history. 

"The second great division represents the territory of the 
United States and British Columbia. This constitutes the 
bulk of the collection, and comprises the hatchets, axes, im- 
plements, and other objects of stone. The mounds of the 
Ohio and Mississippi valleys have yielded large represen- 
tations of pottery. 

"The third stao-e of culture is that belonorinor to Mexico 
and Central America, variously called Aztec and similar 
local names. While it comprises many stone implements, it 
extends further and wider than either of the foregoing, hav- 
ing jade, obsidian, and gold objects and ornaments. Its 
pottery is fine and beautifully made and decorated; while 
some of the ruder pieces, representing gods, especially from 

The United States National Museum 355 

Mexico, are made with a wealth of detail that has increased 
the difficulty of manufacture almost beyond the belief of pos- 
sibility in savage life. 

" The display from South America is important, resem- 
bling the culture of Central America more than that of 
North America. 

" The Department has one of the richest displays of pre- 
historic objects in the United States. It contains more than 
two hundred and fifty thousand objects, which it is impossible 
to name. They, however, are divided both technologically 
and geographically, and by comparison in these two regards 
the endeavor is made to determine the stage of culture and 
obtain some insight into the history of prehistoric man," 

Regarding the Department of Ethnology, the Curator, 
Professor Otis T. Mason, writes: 

"The ethnological collection of the museum relates chiefly 
to the North American Indians, but it includes also valuable 
series of objects from Polynesia, obtained by the United 
States Exploring Expedition, such as the old Tapa cloths 
and weapons, which are no longer obtainable at present. 

"The Eskimo collection is unrivaled. The collections of 
the Bureau of Ethnology and other government surveys on 
the west coast of the Pacific Ocean in North America, and in 
the Pueblo region of the southwestern United States, are the 
most extensive and valuable ever assembled. Amone sinele 
objects of high value and rarity may be mentioned a large 
jade knife from Alaska, obtained by E. W. Nelson ; a fine 
series of boats and totem posts from the west Pacific coast 
of America, by J. G. Swan. In the Powell collection there 
are rare old pieces of pottery from the ruined Pueblos. A 
Hawaiian feather cloak, of large size and well preserved, also 
deserves mention. 

" I present the following list of the most conspicuous and 
useful collections in alphabetical order, by collectors: 

" A collection of great value from Eastern Africa, Kashmir, 

35^ The Smithsonian Institution 

and southeastern Asia, by Doctor William L. Abbott, of 
Philadelphia ; a collection illustrative of the ethnography of 
Korea, by Lieutenant J. B. Bernadou, U. S. N. ; a collection 
from the Department of Education in Japan to illustrate the 
practical industries of this country, in comparison with the 
tools and appliances brought home by Commodore Perry; 
the collection of Doctor Franz Boas, illustrative of the cere- 
monial usages of British Columbia and the Northwest coast ; 
of Captain John G. Bourke, U. S. A., gathered from Indian 
tribes in the United States during his long engagements on 
the frontier ; of Doctor J. F. Bransford, U. S. N., pottery and 
other materials from the graves of Nicaragua ; enormous col- 
lections from the great Interior Basin and Pueblo region to 
illustrate the costume and arts of the Shoshonean and Pueblo 
tribes, also materials gathered by James Mooney and others 
of the Bureau of Ethnology from the tribes in the Indian 
Territory; collection of Heli Chatelain, from Angola; large 
collection from the Chinese Imperial Commission of the 
Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia ; a rare old collection 
from Liberia and vicinity, made by the Colonization Society 
of Washington ; collection illustrative of the games of the 
world, by Stewart Culin, of Philadelphia ; collections espe- 
cially from South America made by the government agents 
for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago ; collec- 
tions of William H. Dall, associated with Doctor Tarleton 
H. Bean and Marcus Baker, in various parts of Alaska; col- 
lections, well labeled, from the Tlingit Indians, by Lieuten- 
ant George T. Emmons, U. S. N, ; a small but extremely 
valuable collection from west Greenland, by Governor Fenck- 
ner ; a precious collection of pottery and other objects from 
old ruined pueblos in New Mexico and Arizona, by Doctor 
J, Walter Fewkes ; collection of William J. Fisher from the 
Eskimo and Aleuts on the Alaskan Peninsula, the Island of 
Kadiak and vicinity ; collection of William M. Gabb from 
Central America ; old and precious collections from Oregon 
and British Columbia, by George Gibbs ; a small and rare 
collection from the west coast of South America, by Lieu- 
tenant J. M. Gilliss, U. S. N.; a small and extremely rare 

The United States National Museum 357 

collection from Fury and Hecla Straits, by Captain Charles 
F. Hall ; collections of the Geographical and Geological Sur- 
vey of the Territories, by Doctor F. V. Hayden ; small col- 
lection from North Greenland and Grinnell Land, by Doctor 
I. I. Hayes; collection from the Amazon River, by Lieu- 
tenant Herndon, U. S. N.; collection from the Ainos and 
northern Japanese, by Romyn Hitchcock; collections from 
the Indians of the western Great Lakes, by Doctor W, J. 
Hoffman ; collections from the Swiss Lake dwellings, by Pro- 
fessor Joseph Jillson ; collections from southeastern Japan, by 
P. L. Jouy ; collections from the Mackenzie River district, by 
Mr. Robert Kennicott ; royal gift from the King of Siam, 
through General J. A. Halderman; collection from Cumber- 
land Gulf, by Ludwig Kumlien ; a priceless collection of an- 
tiquities from Porto Rico, by George Latimer ; collection 
from Bristol Bay, by Charles L. McKay; extremely valu- 
able collection from Mackenzie River district, by Robert 
MacFarlane, of the Hudson Bay Company ; collection from 
the Congo region, by Dorsey Mohun ; collection from the 
Sioux tribes of Dakota, by Doctor Washington Matthews, 
U. S. A. ; an immense collection, covering many thousand 
numbers, from Alaska, by E. W. Nelson ; collections from 
the Southwest and Mexico, by Doctor Edward Palmer; col- 
lections from Japan, by Commodore Perry, U. S. N. ; collec- 
tions from the tribes of Utah, by Major J. \<! . Powell, of the 
United States Geological Survey; collections from northern 
and central California, by Stephen Powers ; collections from 
Kotzebue Sound and of the Hupa Indians from northern 
California, by Captain P. H. Ray, U. S. A.; collection from 
Thibet, by the Honorable W. W. Rockhill ; collection from 
the Chiikchis country and Alaska, by Commodore John 
Rodgers, U. S. N.; collection from the Mackenzie River 
district, by B. R. Ross, of the Hudson Bay Company; collec- 
tion from Peru, by Lieutenant W. E. Safford, U. S. N. ; col- 
lection by Reverend George W. Samson, from the Holy 
Land ; collection by Paul Shoemaker on the shell heaps of 
the West Coast, especially Santa Barbara Island ; collection 
of Lieutenant G. M. Stoney, U. S. N., from Kotzebue Sound ; 

35^ The Smithsonian Institution 

collection by James G. Swan, from the North Pacific Coast 
of America ; collection by Talcott Williams, from North 
Africa; collection by Lieutenant E. H. Taunt, U. S. N., from 
the Congo region ; collection of Doctor William M. Thomson, 
U. S. N., from Easter Island ; collection of Honorable W. P. 
Tisdell, from the Congo region ; collection of Lucien M. 
Turner, from Labrador and North Sound ; collection of Cap- 
tain G. M. Wheeler, U. S. A., from Southern California ; col- 
lection of Captain A. W. Whipple, U. S. A., from Southwest ; 
collection of Rouncevelle Wildman, from eastern China ; col- 
lection of the Wilkes Exploring Expedition from Polynesia 
to the west coast of America. 

" In addition to those already named should be mentioned 
the various branches of the United States executive service, 
the Department of State, the War Department, the Navy 
Department, and the Department of the Interior." 

Of the Section of Oriental Antiquities and Religious Cere- 
monials, Dr. Cyrus Adler writes : 

" This Section comprises a small collection, interesting, not 
so much because of the intrinsic value of the objects as be- 
cause of the relation in which they are shown. It may be 
divided, according to religions and nations, into nine sections : 
I, Biblico-Judaic ; 2, Christian; 3, Mohammedan; 4, Egyp- 
tian; 5, Assyro- Babylonian ; 6, Hittite; 7, Graeco- Roman ; 8, 
Brahman ; 9, Buddhist. 

" Of the Biblico-Judaic section, the collection of manu- 
scripts and editions of the Bible and its versions (forty-one 
in number) may be considered as the most important, having 
both a literary and paleographic interest. Next to this may 
be mentioned the collection of objects of Jewish ceremonials, 
which, besides being a complete set of the objects used by the 
Jews in their religious observances, is of much artistic and 
historical value. 

*' In the Egyptian section the mummy with its cases and the 
facsimile of the 'Book of the Dead' rank foremost. In the 
Assyro- Babylonian section the most imposing objects are the 

The United States National Miisemn 359 

two colossal composite figures and the model of a temple 
tower of Babel, the latter being unique. For purposes of 
the study of the mythology and culture of Mesopotamia the 
collection of seals (upwards of three hundred in number) is 

" The whole collection of Hittite casts (thirty-eight) is 
unique in America, and affords a basis for the study of the 
history and civilization of this people who played such an 
important part in the ancient history of the Orient. 

" In the Grseco- Roman division rank foremost the Serpent 
Column of Delphi and the reliefs of the pedestal of the Obe- 
lisk, both from the Hippodrome in Constantinople. These 
casts are unique. 

" In the Buddhist section there are some fine images of 
Buddha of carved wood and bronze, models of pagodas from 
Japan, and a rare collection of musical instruments as well as 
other religious implements from China. 

" A rare piece of Mosaic representing a lion attacking a 
horse, from an ancient temple in Carthage, also deserves 
especial mention." 

The varied collections grouped together in the department 
of "Arts and Industries" are not readily summarized, but the 
following statements of those having the most important 
series in charge will be of interest : 

"In the Section of Historical Collections," writes Mr. A. 
Howard Clark, Honorary Curator, " are exhibited personal 
relics of representative men and memorials of events and 
places of historic importance. The nucleus of the collection 
was the Washington relics transferred from the Patent Office 
in 1883, and these still comprise the choicest of the his- 
torical treasures, including, as they do, so many objects 
intimately associated with General Washington during his 
home life as well as military campaigns. Furniture, porce- 
lain, glassware, and ornamental articles from Mount Ver- 
non, Royal Worcester vases presented to him by Samuel 

360 The Smithsonian Institution 

Vaughan, the Martha Washington china, presented by Van 
Braam, a beautiful Niederweiler bowl, personally presented 
in I 792 by the Comte de Custine, and a nearly complete din- 
ner service of Chinese-ware decorated with the insignia of 
the Society of the Cincinnati ; and besides these, the tents, 
camp chest, field-glass, and writing-case used by Wash- 
ington durinor the War of the Revolution, as also miniature 
portraits of the General and Martha Washington painted on 
wood by the artist Trumbull, 

" Next in importance to the Washington relics are the 
almost priceless memorials of General Grant : the saddle, 
sword, field-glasses, and other objects used by him during 
his military career, all his commissions in the army from 
Lieutenant by brevet during the Mexican War up through 
the several grades to General, and his certificate as Presi- 
dent of the United States ; handsomely mounted swords ; and 
the great gold medal with which he was honored by Con- 
gress for his military services ; many elegant gifts received 
during his tour of the world, including the beautiful jade vase 
and ornamented bell standard given him by Prince Kung of 

" By the side of these treasures are valuable gifts to Presi- 
dents of the United States and to statesmen, soldiers, and 
other representative Americans ; some Moorish guns highly 
decorated with gold and coral, and a gold-mounted sword, 
gifts to Thomas Jefferson from the Emperor of Morocco ; 
jeweled and gold-scabbard swords presented by citizens of 
States and cities for military bravery to General Ripley, 
Commodores Elliott and Biddle, Admiral Trenchard, Gen- 
erals Hancock, Paul, and others. 

" Here, too, are exhibited the great gold medal presented 
by Congress to Joseph Francis for his service to the world 
as inventor of life-saving appliances ; the beautiful vase pre- 
sented to Professor Baird by the Emperor of Germany as 
the grand prize of the Berlin International Fishery Exhibi- 
tion ; the silver urn from the citizens of Baltimore to Com- 
modore John Rodgers for his services in defense of that city 
during the War of 181 2 ; the garrison flag of Fort Moultrie 

The United States National Museum 361 

in December, 1 860, when that fort was evacuated by Anderson ; 
the war saddle of Baron de Kalb, who gave his life for Ameri- 
can independence ; the uniform worn by General Jackson at 
the battle of New Orleans, and many other individual objects 
of great historic value. 

"A most instructive historic treasure is the Copp collection 
of household objects and wearing apparel, illustrating the 
home-life of the New England colonists from 1635 to the 
period of the War of the Revolution, the gift of Mr. John 
Brenton Copp. 

" As a precious treasure in memory of the immortal Lin- 
coln, there is the original plaster life-mask. Equally interest- 
ing are the molds of the hands made by the sculptor Volk, in 
i860, just prior to the nomination of Lincoln for President of 
the United States. 

"As a most conspicuous object, and a treasure as well, may 
be mentioned the original full-size plaster model of ' Liberty ' 
by Crawford, from which was cast the bronze statue sur- 
mounting the United States Capitol." 

Of the Sections of Transportation, Engineering, and Naval 
Architecture and Physical Apparatus, Mr. J. E. Watkins, 
Curator, writes as follows : 

" The collections in transportation, engineering, and naval 
architecture, although not great in extent, are particularly 
valuable on account of the historical interest of almost every 
object which has been collected and is now on exhibition. 
Notable among the objects is the cylinder of the first steam- 
engine erected on the Western Continent, by Josiah Horn- 
blower, in 1753, sixteen years before James Watt began his 
investigations of the properties of steam. The museum has 
also been fortunate in obtaining the original machinery of the 
Stevens twin-screw propeller steam-boat, constructed and 
operated in the year 1804, three years before Robert Fulton 
operated the ' Clermont' on the Hudson River. The original 
multitubular boiler of the Stevens locomotive of 1825, which 

ran in Hoboken, New Jersey, four years before Stephenson's 

3^2 The Smithsonian Institution 

'Rocket,' also forms a part of this collection. A cylinder and 
other portions of the locomotive 'Stourbridge Lion,' the first 
locomotive built for traffic on the Western Continent, was 
obtained several years ago through the cooperation of 
Horatio Allen, who, in August, 1829, first ran this locomotive 
near Honesdale, Pennsylvania. The series showing the de- 
velopment of permanent way in America is unique, as are the 
two collections of models showing the development of wheel 
vehicles and machinery of the steamboats invented by Rumsey, 
Fitch, Fulton, and Ericsson. 

"The Ramsden dividing engine, used in the last century to 
divide equally the circles of quadrants and other mathematical 
instruments, which is the earliest machine of this kind extant, 
also forms a part of the collection of apparatus. A very im- 
portant and valuable recent addition to this section is the 
seismological apparatus displayed at the World's Columbian 
Exposition in the Japanese exhibit, and since presented to 
the museum by that government. 

"The electrical collections contain objects of extreme im- 
portance and value. Among these may be mentioned one of 
the first three large horseshoe electric magnets, wound and 
experimented with by Henry, together with the battery, first 
motor, and other similar appliances constructed by Henry 
while in Princeton ; and the original telegraph apparatus in- 
vented by Professor Morse. The original telegraph instru- 
ment from which was received the historic message, ' What 
hath God wrought,' in Baltimore, 1844, also forms part of this 
collection, together with objects illustrating the beginnings 
and development of the storage battery and electric incandes- 
cent and arc lamps, and other electrical apparatus. 

"The telephone which Johann Philipp Reis, of Frankfort, 
invented in i860, is another object of much interest and 

The collection of Materia Medica is probably the most 
complete and most carefully labeled collection of its kind ex- 
hibited in any museum. It is very full in many directions, 



1864- 1873. 


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cylinder ^n,^ 

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The United States National Museum 363 

and is especially rich in specimens of cinchona. Of the latter 
series Doctor J. M. Flint, U. S. N., the Honorary Curator, 
writes : 

" I regard the collection of cinchona products as the most 
important in the Materia Medica Section. This collection 
embraces specimens of nearly all the natural cinchona barks 
of South America, every variety of the cultivated product 
from the government plantations in India, together with 
most of the cultivated sorts from Java, Ceylon, Jamaica, and 
Mexico. The India and Jamaica collections comprise also 
herbarium specimens of the leaf and flower, and in many 
cases the fruit of each variety of cinchona tree from which 
the bark is taken." 

Of the Section of Graphic Arts, Mr. S. R. Koehler writes : 

"This Section was definitely organized in January, 1887, 
although its beginning goes back to at least the year 1884. 
From a very few specimens then on hand the collectors in 
this section have increased to the number of five thousand 
six hundred and twenty specimens at the present writing, but 
as many of the entries on the catalogue cover more than one 
specimen, it will be safe to say that the total number is about 
six thousand. 

"The aim of the Section is to illustrate the various pro- 
cesses of making pictures by lines and masses, either black 
or in colors, by hand, or with the aid of machinery, and the 
application of these processes in the industrial arts. To 
reach this aim, all the methods of making pictures that have 
ever been essayed are eventually to be illustrated. — and many 
of them are already illustrated, — by the tools and materials 
used, by the product in the various stages of progress, and 
by historical examples showing the development of each pro- 
cess, from the invention to the present time." 

In addition to the collections already noticed, the museum 
possesses a good series of musical instruments, assembled 

3^4 The Smithsonian Institution 

under the immediate direction of Doctor Goode ; a collection 
of porcelains, bronzes, and ivory carvings ; a large and va- 
ried collection illustrating fisheries, which was brought to- 
gether chiefly in connection with the Fisheries Exhibition of 
Berlin and London ; a small forestry collection ; a collection 
of foods ; a collection representing the utilization of industrial 
products derived from animals ; a collection of fibers and tex- 
tiles ; and a series of objects illustrating the chemical com- 
position of the human body. 

I have already alluded to the work done by the Museum 
in the direction of supplying from its surplus the needs of 
other scientific and educational establishments. 

This undertaking was inaugurated at an early date, as I 
have stated on a preceding page (page 323), and already 
in 1866, at the end of the second decade of the Institution, 
110,000 specimens from the collections had been distributed. 
At the close of the fifth decade, in 1896, the number had 
risen to 521,000 specimens. These included animals of every 
class and many geological and mineralogical specimens and 

Every State and Territory in the Union has received a share 
of these collections, and numerous institutions outside the 
United States have also been beneficiaries in the distribution. 

The majority of these specimens were distributed without 
demand for, or expectation of, a return ; but the National 
Museum has received from other institutions in exchange for 
the collections sent out a body of specimens amounting in all 
to perhaps one-third the number distributed. Important ad- 
ditions have been made to the Museum in this way, and, 
indeed, its surplus collections, owing to the comparatively 
small amounts available for purchases, have constituted its 
chief capital. The system of exchanges, however, has its 

The United States National Musenm 365 

limitations, which are soon felt. Few institutions carry large 
quantities of surplus material, and none, of course, dispose 
of their most precious possessions. Exchange, therefore, 
takes the place of purchase only to a limited extent. 

The Smithsonian Institution has carried on the distribution 
of surplus specimens from its own collections as a part of its 
regular activities, having for their object the diffusion of 
knowledge. The government has shown its acquiescence in 
this policy, so far as the national collections are concerned, 
by several enactments making appropriations for the work, 
and in other ways. 

In 1878 the Museum began the publication of a scientific 
journal, which has become well known to the world of science 
under the name of " Proceedings of the United States 
National Museum." The object of this journal, as indicated 
in the "advertisement" inserted in the volumes, is "the 
prompt publication of freshly acquired facts relating to 
biology, anthropology, and geology ; descriptions of re- 
stricted groups of animals and plants; the settlement of par- 
ticular questions relative to the synonymy of species, and the 
diaries of minor expeditions." Eighteen volumes had been 
published to the close of 1895, containing in all no fewer than 
1 100 papers, comprising 12,056 printed pages. All the 
papers relate directly or indirectly to the collections of the 
Museum and serve to make them known to specialists. The 
volumes include ^ a large share of the scientific publications 
of the curators of the Museum, whose investigations have 
very naturally been based for the most part on the collections 
under their care. The "Proceedings" is a great store- 
house of facts relating to natural histor)-, and especially in 

1 With the " Bulletins " to be mentioned presently. 

366 The SrnitJisonian Institution 

the field of systematic zoology, but the work of every depart- 
ment of the Museum is reflected in its pages. 

A few years before the establishment of the " Proceedings," 
in 1875, the Museum began the publication of a series of 
monographic works, under the general title of the " Bulletin 
of the United States National Museum," which in 1895 had 
reached 49 numbers. This series does not differ essentially 
in character from the " Proceedings," but comprises for the 
most part works too large to be conveniently included in the 
latter journal, and generally of a more comprehensive scope. 

The regular series of both "Proceedings " and "Bulletin" are 
in octavo, but the Museum has also published three numbers 
of the latter series as " Special Bulletins" in quarto. Two 
of these contain " Life Histories of North American Birds, 
with special reference to their breeding habits and eggs," by 
Major Bendire, and the third a treatise on "Oceanic Ichthy- 
ology," by Doctor Goode and Doctor Tarleton H. Bean. 

The Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian 
Institution until 1884 consisted each year of a single volume 
in which was included a statement of the operations of the 
National Museum. The Report of 1884, however, and those 
of subsequent years have been published in two volumes, 
of which one is devoted exclusively to a statement of the 
work of the Museum. In connection with the administrative 
reports contained in these volumes have been published a 
series of illustrated papers of a non-technical character de- 
scriptive of various collections in the Museum. These papers 
have the same interest for non-professional readers that the 
technical papers in the " Proceedings" have for investigators, 
and the demand for them reveals a widespread interest in 
zoology, botany, anthropology, and those other subjects with 
which the work of the Museum has been most closely con- 


By W J McGee 

I^HE germ of the ethnological bureau was an 
exploration of the canons of the Colorado 
fostered by Joseph Henry, organizer of the 
Smithsonian Institution. Begrun in amateur 
■^S^ fashion among the Rocky Mountains during 
the summer of 1867, by Major John W. Powell and a few 
associates, the exploration was gradually pushed down the 
tributaries to Grand River, then to the Green, and later to 
the mud-tinted Colorado; and in 1869 the rugged gorge 
of Green River and the fitly named "Grand" canon of the 
Colorado were traversed by Powell and his intrepid com- 
panions. This exploration was the boldest in design and 
the most perilous in execution among the scientific expedi- 
tions recorded in the annals of the nation. 

Before, during, and after the passage of the canons, ob- 
servations were extended over the country drained by the 
rivers, and gradually the exploration became a survey, first 
geographical, then geological, and finally anthropological. 
At first the plan was simple and the work was prosecuted 
at the cost of the surveyors ; as the difficulties increased the 

plan was elaborated that they might be overcome, and a 


368 The Smithsonian Institution 

number of persons who had become interested in the work 
contributed toward the means required for carrying it on ; 
finally, in 1871, the Congress made an appropriation, to be 
expended under the direction of the Smithsonian Institution, 
for continuing the explorations and surveys. Both before 
and after this enactment, Professor Henry warmly encour- 
aged the work and guided it by wise counsel. His aid is 
commemorated, and will be so long as our language lives, 
in a noble monument — the Henry mountains. 

When the survey was organized under Congressional pro- 
vision it was designated "The United States Geographical 
and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region." The 
work was placed in Major Powell's charge. In pursuing the 
researches, much attention was given to the aboriginal in- 
habitants, and extensive collections representing their arts, 
languages, institutions, and beliefs were made, and the ob- 
jects collected were preserved in the Smithsonian Institution. 
On July I, 1874, the survey was transferred to the Depart- 
ment of the Interior, while its plan was extended, though not 
materially modified save that the anthropological researches 
were made more prominent; and in 1876 a series of reports 
on the Indians, entitled " Contributions to North American 
Ethnology," was projected, with the concurrence of the Sec- 
retary of the Smithsonian Institution, and during the ensu- 
ing year two volumes of the series were published. At this 
stage the work seemed to be definitely established under 
federal auspices, and, in accordance with a wise and liberal 
custom, the head of the Smithsonian Institution withdrew 
from active investigation of the Indians and freely transferred 
to the survey the rich collection of linguistic manuscripts 
accumulated during the preceding thirty years. 

At the opening of 1879 there were four organizations en- 
gaged in surveys and researches in the Western Territories, 

Buremt of American Ethnology 369 

including the " Geographical and Geological Survey of the 
Rocky Mountain Region ; " by an act of Congress approved 
in March of that year the work was reorganized, and the 
four bureaus were united in the United States Geological 
Survey, while provision was made for continuing the an- 
thropological researches under the direction of the Smithso- 
nian Institution ; and Professor Spencer F. Baird, then 
Secretary of the Institution, confided the direction of the 
work to Major Powell. This was the beginning of the 
Bureau of American Ethnology. 

Appropriations for continuing the researches concerning 
the American Indians at the cost of the federal government 
and under the direction of the Smithsonian Institution have 
since been made annually by Congressional action. The 
new bureau at once began and has since continued the publi- 
cation of annual reports, and also carried on the "Contribu- 
tions to North American Ethnology " until the series was 
brought to an end by the printing law of 1895 ! i" addition a 
series of bulletins and certain special publications have been 

On April I, 1880, Major Powell was made Director of the 
United States Geological Survey, but continued in charge of 
the bureau of ethnology, and devoted a part of his energies 
to researches concerning the Indians. In 1893 his health was 
precarious, and on July i of that year the writer was ap- 
pointed Ethnologist in Charge. A year later Major Powell 
resigned the control of the Geological Survey, but retained 
that of the bureau, and has since devoted himself wholly to 
the completion of the researches begun on the headwaters 
of Rio Colorado in 1867. 

In the original exploration, in the official survey of the 
Rocky Mountain region, and later in the present bureau, 
Powell pursued a liberal policy, with great enthusiasm, under 

Z7^ The Smithsojiian Institution 

which expert collaborators were enlisted, and the aid of men 
of genius was sought ; and he, more than all others, realizes 
that whatever of value may be found in the results of the 
work is to be credited in great part to devoted collaborators, 
some of whom gained international repute through researches 
in the bureau, A few of the workers, like the Mindeleff 
brothers, Jeremiah Curtin, and Doctor Walter J. Hoffman, 
have turned into other paths, while Professor William H. 
Holmes has gone to a position of honor for which his bureau 
training was a preparation. Doctor Albert S. Gatschet and 
Professor Cyrus Thomas have grown old in constant duty, 
but retain their vigor and wealth of experience ; Frederick 
Webb Hodge and J. N. B. Hewitt, James Mooney, and 
Mrs. Matilda Coxe Stevenson have grown up with the 
bureau, and Frank Hamilton Gushing has spent half his 
career in its service ; while Doctor J. Walter Fewkes has 
recently been added to the corps. Henry W. Henshaw 
broke in his prime, and his complete restoration is still 
in the future ; Stevenson, Reynolds, Mallery, Dorsey, and 
Pilling fell in harness, and live only in their works — their 
names are enrolled in the fane of science. 

When the bureau was instituted, the experience and the 
tangible results of the preceding years of research were util- 
ized by Director Powell in shaping its plan. It was recog- 
nized that anthropology is a young and imperfectly organized 
science ; it was also recognized that the subject matter of an- 
thropology is more complex than that of any other science. 
Accordingly it was deemed important to design and conduct 
the researches in such manner as both to organize and diffuse 
anthropological knowledge. Moreover, the American natives 
were regarded as offering a field for research more extensive, 
more clearly defined, more completely virgin, and more easily 

Bureau of Afnerican Ethnology 3 7 1 

wrought than any other within reach of students working 
under governmental auspices; and from the beginning it was 
the aim to cuhivate appreciatively this vast and fertile field, 
and to join the anthropologists of the world in harvesting 
improved and extended knowledge. Such was the primary 
plan of the Bureau of American Ethnology — to found as 
well as to extend the science of man. 

When the researches began, certain general methods were 
adopted. In accordance with the best scientific usage, re- 
search began with actual observation on the ground ; recog- 
nizing the complexity and elusiveness of human phenomena 
and the fallibility of human perception, observations were 
repeated and usually verified by others before acceptance ; 
nothing was taken for granted, and even the most widely 
accepted theories were held in abeyance until tested by 
trained observers. As observations multiplied, they were 
compared in order that relations might be discovered, and 
ultimately the facts were grouped by relation. In this work 
the several collaborators cooperated with the original stu- 
dent, in order that the chance of erroneous grouping might 
be reduced. When the detailed observations were of wide- 
spread interest, they were published in part or in full ; when 
they were of technical character, or for other reasons of in- 
terest to few persons only (as in linguistics), only typical col- 
lections were published, the mass being held for comparative 
study. As research progressed the relations themselves were 
compared and grouped, for the purpose of educing laws of 
relation, or principles. This work was performed largely by 
Director Powell, who not only originated, but constantly co- 
ordinated the various lines of research ; though collaborators 
were always encouraged to seek relations and educe princi- 
ples, and to publish under their own names such results of 
their work as were not inconsistent with those of other in- 

372 The Smithsonian Institution 

vestigators ; for it was recognized that research is best pro- 
moted by encouraging the investigator. Such have been the 
general methods in the bureau ; they are in no way pecuhar, 
and are worthy of statement only as the basis on which the 
researches of the bureau have always rested. 

As the researches progressed the plan matured in special 
methods growing out of special conditions. It was found 
that the native Americans are grouped in tribes bearing dis- 
tinct names, possessing more or less distinctive attributes, 
and occupying more or less definite areas, so that in current 
thought and in history the tribe had come to be regarded as 
a primary ethnic unit ; and the work became accordingly an 
investigation of American tribes. The questions asked by 
anthropologists concerning the native tribes commonly run 
in a certain order. The first demand is for definition or more 
extended description ; the second is for the geographic posi- 
tion or distribution of the tribe ; while the third is frequently 
connected with the social and other relations of the tribes- 
men ; somewhat less frequently questions arise concerning 
the history and prospects of individual tribes, and ethical 
questions of such character as to fall within the legitimate 
domain of official inquiry occasionally arise. To all such 
intellieent and definite demands for information it seemed 
desirable to make answer, and thereby the special methods 
of the bureau were shaped ; and, so far as conditions per- 
mitted, the tribes have been classified, their distribution has 
been determined, their organization and institutions have 
been ascertained, and their history has been deciphered and 
recorded. Yet it was recognized throughout that each tribe 
is but a minute part of a great assemblage — the American 
people ; and it has ever been sought to so shape the re- 
searches as to contribute toward answering all legitimate in- 
quiries concerning the relations of this important branch of 

Bureau of American Ethnology zil 

mankind among each other as individuals and tribes, as well 
as to the other peoples of the world. 

The operations have varied from time to time with condi- 
tions, including official requirements, administrative necessi- 
ties, and the demands of growing science. The most potent 
of these conditions in shaping the operations of the bureau 
was an official demand to which the institution of the bureau 
was a partial response. Statesmen and administrative offi- 
cers concerned with placing the Indians on reservations felt 
the need of a practical classification of the Indian tribes under 
which they might be arranged in amicable groups; this need 
was urged on Major Powell while Director of the Rocky 
Mountain Survey, and the anthropological researches of the 
survey were bent to meet it ; and when provision was made 
for continuing the work it was understood that the primary 
duty of the new bureau should be the classification of the 
Indian tribes for practical as well as for scientific purposes. 
One of the effects of this requirement was to give a name to 
the office, which thus came to be designated a bureau of eth- 
nology ; another effect was to confine the early operations of 
the bureau to the United States, though it was planned 
by statesmen to extend operations over North America 
at the outset and finally over the hemisphere, and the terms 
of the law were fixed in accordance with this purpose. The 
most profound and far-reaching effect of the plan was the 
rapid development and early application of a mode of classi- 
fication, which has guided the subsequent operations of the 
bureau. In the infancy of anthropology the races of men 
were classed by color of skin, character of hair, form of 
cranium, attitude of eyes, and other corporeal or physical 
features; even before the creation of the bureau certain an- 
thropologists, notably Gallatin in the second quarter of the 
century, realized that, while the American aborigines may 

374 The Smithsonian Institution 

perhaps be discriminated collectively on the physical basis, 
the tribes, the confederacies into which they are sometimes 
united, and the clans and gentes of which they are composed, 
are defined by purely human attributes growing out of the 
preeminently intellectual character of mankind. The studies 
of the Rocky Mountain Survey had shown that the human 
attributes are essentially collective, at once the product and 
parent of cooperation among individuals ; and hence that the 
classific unit among mankind is not the individual, as among 
lower animals, but the cooperative group. When the force 
of the official demand for a practical classification of the 
Indians was felt, and it was recognized that a physical classi- 
fication was incompetent, the collective or demotic characters 
were carefully considered; and it was soon perceived that 
the tribes of identical belief are commonly harmonious, and 
might safely be grouped on reservations; it was also found 
that similarity in institutions usually accompanies similarity 
in belief and conduces to harmonious relation; and it was 
found too that similarity in arts prepares the way for pacific 
association. Further study showed that tribes having related 
arts commonly spoke related tongues, that tribes of related 
institutions almost invariably spoke cognate dialects, and that 
similarity in belief was always accompanied by close similarity 
or identity in speech. Thus it was ascertained that the tribes 
might be classified roughly by arts, more definitely by insti- 
tutions, and with sufficient refinement for all practical pur- 
poses by beliefs ; and at the same time that language is 
equally useful with belief as a basis for classification, while 
its data are more easily obtained. Accordingly the linguistic 
classification was adopted ; and through the aid of collabo- 
rators and correspondents material pertaining to the native 
languages was rapidly collected. 

Through administrative necessities each collaborator has 

Buremi of American Ethnology 375 

been compelled to distribute his energies among" different 
tribes, often among different stocks; for it has never been 
deemed wise by statesmen interested in the work to maintain 
a force sufficiently large to permit the assignment of a col- 
laborator to each tribe, confederacy, or stock. In consequence 
the collaborators became specialists in departments of re- 
search concerning matters common to many or all tribes, 
some in linguistics, others in arts, still others in institutions 
and beliefs. It was soon noted that this differentiation in 
labor on the part of the anthropologists reflected a differen- 
tiation in activity among the aborigines; and it was found 
convenient to recognize formally this original differentiation 
and classify the work of the bureau thereby. Foremost among 
these, not only as the basis of all the others but in immediate 
importance, is language, including speech and the germ of 
writing; second in order of development and importance 
come the arts, esthetic and industrial; next in order are insti- 
tutions; and perhaps youngest in origin and most interesting 
to thoughtful investigators are beliefs. These categories 
of activities are characteristic of all mankind, and have been 
called the humanities by Major Powell and some other stu- 
dents; they correspond with the chief lines of research in the 
bureau of ethnology. 

At the outset it was the intention to devote energy largely 
or exclusively to researches among living tribes and tribal 
remnants in order that rapidly passing facts might be seized, 
and little attention was given to the more permanent relics 
of prehistoric art. In 1881 the Congress was petitioned to 
so enlarge the scope of the bureau as to include a study of 
the archaeology of the United States ; and without the know- 
ledge of the Secretary of the Institution, or the Director of 
the Bureau, an item making the requisite provision was 
added to the law. Under this specific official requirement. 

Z1^ The Smithsonian Institution 

researches concerning the prehistoric works of the country 
were undertaken. 

Much efifort has been devoted to investigation of the rela- 
tions of the Indians among each other and to different peo- 
ples, partly with the view of facilitating collateral researches. 
Various methods and criteria of classification have been 
tested in the different departments of ethnology, and new 
methods and new criteria have been devised. These com- 
parisons and studies have resulted in the adoption of a gen- 
eral classific method in which the phenomena are grouped 
first by origin or genetic relation, and second by conditions 
of development. Always at the beginning and sometimes at 
the end of an investigation important relations are unknown, 
when it is necessary to adopt arbitrary classific systems based 
on any convenient criteria; but it is the aim to replace 
the arbitrary systems by natural arrangements whenever the 
state of knowledge permits. On this basis the object-matter 
(the Indians) and the subject-matter (the knowledge) of the 
bureau's researches are classified. 

The first demand for a practical classification of the Indian 
tribes was met by grouping the Indians north of Mexico and 
a part of those occupying the territory of that republic in 
fifty-nine linguistic stocks (or families), each usually compris- 
ing a number of tribes. These stocks, with the approximate 
number of tribes in each, are shown in the accompany- 
ing table. This classification of the American Indians was 
originally published in the seventh annual report of the bu- 
reau, and has been generally adopted in encyclopedias, text- 
books, and other standard works relating to the American 
aborio^ines in this and other countries. 

Bureau of Americmt Ethnology 



Algonquian 36 

Athapascan 53 

Attacapan 2 

Beothukan i 

Caddoan 9 

Chimakuan ........ 2 

Chimarikan 2 

Chimmesyan 8 

Chinookan 11 

Chitimachan i 

Chumashan 6 

Coahuiltecan 22 

Copehan 22 

Costanoan 5 

Eskimauan 70 

Esselenian i 

Iroquoian 13 

Kalapooian 8 

Karankawan i 

Keresan 17 

Kiovvan i 

Kitunahan 4 

Koluschan 12 

Kulanapan 30 

Kusan 4 

Lutuamian 4 

Mariposan 24 

Moquelumnan 35 

Muskhogean 9 

Nahuatlan ? 

Natchesan 2 

Palaihnihan 8 

Piman 7 

Pujunan 26 

Quoratcan 3 

Salinan 2 

Salishan 64 

Sastean i 

Serian 3 

Shahaptian 7 

Shoshonean 12 

Sioiian 68 

Skittagetan 17 

Takilman i 

Tanoan 14 

Timuquanan 60 

Tonikan 3 

Tonkawan i 

Uchean i 

Waiilatpuan 2 

Wakashan 37 

Washoan i 

Weitspekan 6 

Wishoskan 3 

Yakonan 4 

Yanan i 

Yukian 5 

Yuman 9 

Zunian i 

While this classification of the tribes is immediately and 
ostensibly based on linguistic characters, it has a much 
deeper significance than might appear at first glance. In 
the first place, the linguistic characters have been found to 
be interrelated with other characters, including those ex- 
pressed in arts, industries, institutions, and beliefs, and were 
used in the classification only because, of the essentially 
collective or demotic features of the Indians, they were most 
easily ascertained. In the second place, the several cate- 


37^ The Smithsoitian Institution 

gories of characters represented by language have been 
found, through study of traditions and direct survivals, to 
express the actual phylogenic development of the tribes and 
stocks. Accordingly each linguistic character is treated not 
merely as an external adventive feature, but as a product 
of evolution, a record of the past, and a precursor of the 
future. The classification of American Indians devised and 
applied by the bureau is accordingly a condensed expres- 
sion of the sum of present knowledge concerning the origin 
and development of the native American people. 

It has been ascertained that certain words in American 
languages are related in meaning to words of similar sound 
in transoceanic tongues ; that the arrow of America is like 
that of the Orient and other parts of the world, not only in 
general form and function, but even in symbolic markings; 
that certain hieroglyphics of the Occident are similar to those 
of Egypt and the East in form and significance ; that the 
calendar of Mexico duplicates in essential features the cal- 
endars of India and Arabia ; that some social customs of 
America resemble those of Africa and Australia; and that the 
beliefs and ceremonials of the American aborigines simulate 
and sometimes exactly repeat those of India, China, and other 
countries. These parallelisms in the intellectual products of 
mankind have carefully been considered and weighed in the 
effort to trace general ethnic relation, and it has been found 
that in the vast majority of cases they cannot be regarded as 
indicating connection among peoples, and seem rather to in- 
dicate a law of mental action — the law that different minds 
of equal capacity respond similarly to like stimuli. This con- 
clusion is expressed in different publications, notably a chap- 
ter by Powell entitled "On Activital Similarities" in the 
third annual report, and appears to be generally accepted 
among American anthropologists. 

Bureau of Americaji Ethnology 379 

The linguistic researches and the classification of the native 
tribes by the bureau may be considered the continuation of 
the admirable work of Gallatin, who in 1836 published a 
" Synopsis of the Indian Tribes ... in North America," ^ in 
which eighty-one tribes belonging to twenty-eight families 
were enumerated. Even more closely were the researches 
connected with the plan communicated to the Smithsonian 
Institution in 1851 by Professor William W. Turner; for it 
was in accordance with this plan that the earlier linguistic 
collections were made under the auspices of the Institution, 
while these collections formed the nucleus of the material 
conveyed to the Rocky Mountain Survey and inherited by 
the bureau. Time has shown the wisdom of Professor Tur- 
ner's plan, a part of which is worthy of repetition : 

" Let the writer . . . describe the particular language un- 
der consideration ; let all fanciful comparisons with Hebrew, 
Greek, etc., be excluded. Each grammar should note the 
dialectical peculiarities of the language of which it treats, and 
also the changes that may be taking place in it — that is to say, 
such as have been observed by the whites since they have 
been familiar with it, and especially such as are indicated by 
differences in the speech of old and young persons. To each 
grammar should be appended one or more specimens of com- 
position in the language, with an interlinear English transla- 
tion. For the purpose of comparison, the parable of the 
Prodigal Son is superior on many accounts to the Lord's 
Prayer, although it would be well to give both. But it is 
very desirable that to these should be added some origi- 
nal production of the native mind, — some speech, fable, 
legend, or song, — that it may afford samples of aboriginal 
modes of thought as well as of expression. It seems strange 
that so apparently obvious and easy a means of obtaining an 
insight into the workings of the mind of rude nations, which 

1 " Archajologia Americana," Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian 
Society, Worcester, 1836, Volume 11, pages 1-422. 

380 The Smithsonian Institution 

would prove of the highest interest to the philosophical 
inquirer, should have been hitherto almost entirely over- 
looked." ^ 

So far as native speech is concerned, the methods and pur- 
poses thus set forth have been pursued, and the linguistic 
material has been collected not only for linguistic purposes, 
but as a means for the interpretation of the primitive mind ; 
indeed the plan has been modified only by extending it to 
sign-language, pictography, hieroglyphics, decoration, paint- 
ing, and tattooing. 

The material in possession of the bureau representing the 
speech of the American aborigines is vast. During the 
seventeen years of its existence a considerable part of its 
energies has been devoted to the collection of such material; 
five quarto volumes of " Contributions " and two octavo 
volumes of" Bulletins" relating exclusively to Indian vocabu- 
laries, grammars, and texts have been published, besides nine 
volumes of a "Bibliography of the Indian Languages," and 
various special papers and chapters have been devoted to the 
same subject; yet the greater part of the linguistic collections 
remain unpublished, though in constant use. The catalogue 
of linguistic manuscripts, some of which are extensive, reaches 
1533 titles, including 332 transferred by the Smithsonian 
Institution in 1876. The greater part of the material used 
in classifying the fifty-nine stocks and over eight hundred 
tribes above enumerated was collected by collaborators of 
the bureau. No other linguistic collection of comparable 
extent and variety is known to exist ; and since the ma- 
terial was recorded in large part by trained linguists, and 
since all the languages and stocks represent a widely dis- 
tributed people in the simpler stages of intellectual develop- 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1852, Appendix, page 100. 

Btireait of American Ethnology 381 

ment, the bureau collection is invaluable to students of the 
origin and growth of language. The special treatises by 
J. Owen Dorsey, Doctor Gatschet, and other collaborators 
are well known to the students of all countries ; the more 
comprehensive results are set forth in preliminary form only 
in Powell's "Introduction to the Study of Indian Languages" 
and in the earlier reports; yet these studies indicate many of 
the laws and conditions of linguistic development from early 
savagery well into barbarism. 

The subject of sign-language was taken up soon after the 
institution of the bureau, and was vigorously pursued for 
some years, especially by Colonel Garrick Mallery. It was 
ascertained that this is a veritable art of expression, logically 
coordinate with lingual utterance, and perhaps of equal im- 
portance in the formative stage of language. The signs were 
originally demonstrative or mimetic, though many of them 
were developed into partially denotive symbols. By the use 
of these symbols the Indians were able not only to exchange 
intelligence at distances, but also to communicate with each 
other despite differences in dialects, and indeed, since the 
signs were less completely differentiated than the phonetic 
symbols, even when the speakers belonged to distinct stocks. 

As the Indian spanned space by signals, so also he sought 
to bridge time by means of symbols painted or carved or 
embossed on the faces of cliffs or other suitable surfaces ; and 
thus, long before the advent of white men, the aborigines 
entered the stage of graphic expression. This subject also 
was studied by Director Powell, Colonel Mallery, Doctor 
Hoffman, and others. Some indications were found that 
pictographic and decorative art sprang from the same ill- 
defined stem, but early became differentiated ; and many in- 
dications were found that, while originally demonstrative and 
mimetic, the rude symbols of pictography soon began to 

3^2 The Smithsonian Instihition 

acquire a denotive meaning, and some of them became 
almost arbitrary. Colonel Mallery's memoir on this subject, 
forming the body of the tenth annual report, has been favor- 
ably received in this and other countries. The researches 
in pictography illustrate the mode of origin of graphic art, 
both linguistic and decorative ; and the laws and stages of 
development exemplified by both signals and pictographs 
are in harmony with those illustrated in the development of 

The development of decorative art, which has been investi- 
gated by Professor Holmes and others, has been found mea- 
surably coincident with that of pictography on the one hand 
and that of hieroglyphics on the other, though the designs, 
always more or less definitely symbolic at the outset, were 
modified to fit the conditions residing in the medium or sur- 
face by which they were displayed. For this reason symbols 
carved on arrow-shafts became elongated, and symbols repre- 
sented by patterns in woven fabrics became angular, while 
one of the consequences of the use of symbols in decoration 
was the development of arbitrary forms and the strengthen- 
ing of the denotive tendency. Of the score of reports re- 
lating to this subject, that prepared by Professor Holmes in 
1885 is, perhaps, the most noteworthy.^ The influence of 
decorative art on the development of writing cannot be neg- 
lected, and the results of the researches concerning decoration 
are in accord with those flowing from the study of phonetic 

In certain groups, notably the Nahuatlan and Mayan, pic- 
tography was so well advanced at the time of the discovery 
that the symbols were conventionalized, sometimes into ideo- 
grams and phonograms, though some retained the original 

1 "A Study of the Textile Art in its Relation to the Development of Form and Orna- 
ment," in Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1888, pages 189-252. 

Bureau of American Ethnology 383 

pictorial character, so that an inchoate hieroglyphic system 
existed among the Indians. As the investigation of speech, 
sign-language, and pictography progressed, it was found de- 
sirable to extend observation to the more highly developed 
native autographic records in the form of codices and carvings 
and paintings. The studies were conducted chiefly by Doctor 
Thomas ; and several memoirs, relating in large part to the 
native calendar system, have been published. In three of 
these a system of interpreting hieroglyphics was set forth and 
applied ; ^ another showed conclusively, for the first time, that 
the Maya year includes a bissextile ; ^ while a memoir now in 
press elucidates the calendar more fully, and indicates the 
derivation and significance of the day symbols. The Ameri- 
can hieroglyphics are especially important as marking the 
beginning of a definite art of graphic expression, thus throw- 
ing light on the critical stage in the development of writing. 
The laws of linguistic development discovered in the hiero- 
glyphics are in accord with those educed from the study of 
speech, sign-language, pictography, and decoration. 

The researches concerning the development of speech and 
the beginning of graphic art have served to define an im- 
portant transitional stage in the growth of culture. Among 
enlightened peoples thought is crystallized and perpetuated 
by means of arbitrary characters which are combined in 
words, sentences, sums, and formulas, in such manner as to 
express ideas clearly and simply ; while among primitive 
peoples thought is crystallized and perpetuated largely by 
means of arbitrary and often incongruous associations. The 
researches have shown that the prescriptorial mode of 

1 " Notes on Certain Maya and Mexican of the Manuscript Troano," in Contribu- 

Manuscripts," in Third Annual Report of the lions to North American Ethnolog)^ Volume 

Bureau of Ethnology, 1884, pages 3-65; v, part 3, 1882. 

" Aids to the Study of the Maya Codices," in 2 Thomas, Cyrus. " The Maya Year," in 

Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of Bulletin No. 18 of the Bureau of Ethnology 

Ethnology, 1888, pages 253-371 ; "A Study issued in 1894. 

3^4 The Smithsonian Institntion 

thought ^ is essentially distinct from that characteristic of the 
stage of writing; that few civilized men have learned to grasp 
primitive thought ; and that no primitive man grasps civilized 
thought save at the end of a civilizing process. Indeed it 
would appear that it is this diversity in mode of thought 
rather than differences in arts, industries, institutions, and 
beliefs, more indeed than all other things combined, that 
separates primitive man from civilized. 

Practically all the American tribes were in the domiciliary 
stage when the continent was discovered ; and, while most 
of them occupied temporary or portable habitations, some 
resided in permanent villages, sometimes dominated by 
temples, council-houses, and barbaric palaces. The vari- 
ous types of structure have been investigated ; the Iroquois 
long-house and the Siouan camp circle — products and ex- 
ponents of social law — have been studied in detail ; Casa 
Grande, the stateliest and best preserved prehistoric house in 
the United States, has been described and illustrated,^ and 
means have been adopted for its preservation ; the skin 
lodges of the plains, the bark-thatched wigwams of the east- 
ern forests, the snow houses of the Arctic, the earth lodges 
of the northern interior, the brush tipis of the Cordilleran 
valleys, the cactus-protected grass houses of the Southwest, 
have been examined ; the cliff houses of the western canons, 
the cavate dwellings of the mesas, and the stone-walled or 
adobe villages of the arid region, have been made known and 
classified as to type and function ; while the great mounds and 
extensive earthworks of the Mississippi valley and other 
portions of the continent have been subjected to survey in 
the field and comparative study in the office. A noteworthy 
report of the bureau is the memoir on American houses and 

1 Defined in the Thirteenth Annual Re- 2 « Casa Grande Ruin," in Thirteenth An- 

port of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1896, pages nual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 
22-24. 1896, pages 289-319. 

Bureau of American Ethnology 385 

house-life^ by Lewis H. Morgan, whose epoch-making re- 
searches concerning the social organization of primitive peo- 
ples marked him as a founder of demotic science; and the 
monograph on mounds and earthworks^ by Doctor Thomas 
was the first complete demonstration of the relations of the 
long mysterious " mound-builders." The Mindeleff brothers 
and the Stevensons, as well as Professor Holmes and Mr. 
Cushine, also contributed much to knowledcre of the native 
architecture of the Southwest through a dozen memoirs 
published in the reports. 

One of the earliest lines of study related to aboriginal cos- 
tumery ; and it has been ascertained that the material, form, 
and construction of dress interacted constantly with artistic 
and other concepts. The relation between dress and deco- 
ration was pointed out by Holmes, who in a recent publi- 
cation showed also that the prehistoric fabrics from caves 
and mounds were essentially similar to the fabrics found in 
use by the white discoverers.^ The researches indicate that 
the construction of articles of dress depends primarily on ma- 
terial, yet at the same time reflects the culture-status of the 
dressmakers, thus expressing the intimacy of connection 
between local culture-grade and local environment. 

When the Colorado was explored, and afterward when the 
bureau was instituted, much time and energy were devoted to 
the study of aboriginal handicraft through direct observation 
followed by comparison ; it was soon found that the infer- 
ences of civilized students concerning the manufacture and 
use of primitive implements are frequently erroneous, since 
primitive thought is unlike cultured thought; and accordingly 

1" Houses and House-Life of the Amer- nual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 

ican Aborigines," in Contributions to North 1894, pages 3-730- 

American Ethnology, Volume iv, 1881 (a 3 « Prehistoric Textile Art of the Eastern 

compleuient to his "Ancient Society"). United States," in Thirteenth Annual Re- 
s'' Report on the Mound Explorations of port of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1896, pages 

the Bureau of Ethnology," in Twelfth An- 3-49- 

386 The Smithsonian Institution 

it was found desirable to transfer that branch of technology 
relating to primitive implements and weapons from a specu- 
lative to an observational basis. The work in this direction 
shaped the later operations of the bureau, and laid the foun- 
dation for most of the researches in archaeology. Notable 
contributions to the scientific study of native American tech- 
nology have been made by Professor Holmes, Doctor Thomas, 
and Mr. Gushing. Through the researches of these and other 
investigators it has been shown that native American art is 
essentially a unit, and that while more or less distinct phases 
sometimes overlap, the chronologic differences are no greater 
than the geographic differences found in passing from one 
portion of the continent to another. In brief, the researches 
indicate that at the time of the discovery the American peo- 
ple were in the stone age, though approaching the non-smelt- 
ing age of metal ; and that this age was indivisible, each of 
the known tribes making and using both crude and finished 
stone tools. 

Incidentally it has been shown that study of the handicraft 
of primitive people affords the only key to prehistoric art, 
and that foreign inferences as to culture stages are inappli- 
cable to the western hemisphere. 

The native domestic wares have received much attention. 
The Stevensons, the Mindeleff brothers, and other collabo- 
rators made extensive collections of pottery, particularly in 
the Southwest, and these have been supplemented by the un- 
precedentedly rich collections of prehistoric ware made by 
Doctor Fewkes ; and the collections have been successfully 
studied by Professor Holmes,^ who has thereby traced the 
development of decoration, and by Doctor Fewkes, who has 
traced the growth of the mythic symbolism of the pue- 

1 Professor Holmes' investigations are Bureau of Ethnology, pages 3-152, and on 
summarized in memoirs on aboriginal stone aboriginal pottery, accomjianying the Six- 
art, in the Fifteenth Annual Report of the teenlh Annual Report (in press). 

Bureau of American Ethnology z'^1 

bios ; ^ while Gushing has worked out several important stages 
in the development of the potter's art and of the associated 
symbolism.^ The art of basketry is in many ways allied to 
that of pottery, and the decorative designs are alike signifi- 
cant. Much information has been gathered also concerning 
wooden-ware and gourd-ware. The researches show that 
the domestic arts of America are indigenous and essentially 
a unit, and that the art products cover the entire range from 
middle or lower savagery up to the borderland of feudal- 
ism. Fully a score of memoirs published in the reports deal 
with this subject. 

In connection with the researches relating to native imple- 
ments, weapons, and utensils, inquiry was made concerning 
the sources of the materials employed in the arts. As these 
inquiries were pushed, it was found that extensive quarrying 
and mining operations were conducted by the Indians in dif- 
ferent parts of the country. Several collaborators were en- 
gaged in the work, notably Professor Holmes, who explored 
extensive aboriginal quarries on the Atlantic slope and in the 
interior, and examined the remarkable mines for copper on 
Lake Superior and for gold and mica in the Appalachians. 

Researches concerning prehistoric works have recently 
been extended into Florida, chiefly by Mr. Gushing, and have 
been rewarded by the most remarkable discoveries in the 
history of American archaeology ; evidence has been found 
that the keys and coastal lowlands skirting the Gulf below 
the twenty-seventh parallel have been occupied, raised by 
ramparts of shells, indeed artificialized, by a powerful and 
well-organized sea-faring people; and the abundant imple- 
ments, weapons, fabrics, and ceremonial objects found in the 

1 Doctor Fewkes' results are incorporated 2 "A Study of Pueblo Pottery as Illustra- 

in the Seventeenth Annual Report of the tive of Zuni Culture Growth," in Fourth An- 

Bureau of Ethnology (in press), and general nual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 

papers in the Smithsonian Reports. 1886, pages 473-521. 

388 The Smithsonian Instihition 

rampart-protected bogs afford a striking record of the char- 
acteristics of the people. 

The games of the Indians have been carefully studied by 
several collaborators, and have been found to illustrate the 
natural history of amusement, and thus to form a basis for 
the science of esthetology. The simpler games have been 
found to be mimetic ; commonly the diversion mimics the in- 
dustry, whether it be the care of children or house on the part 
of the girl, or hunting, fighting, and racing on the part of the 
boy ; while other games imitate social and religious obser- 
vances. Some of the simplest amusements remain purely 
diversional ; others develop into elaborate games and arts of 
pleasure. An important factor in modifying native games 
grows out of the mythologic tendency of the Indian mind ; 
objects and forces which are not understood are deemed 
" mysterious " (transcendental or supernatural, so far as civil- 
ized language can express primitive concept), and thus the 
result of a throw, a race, or a shot is ascribed to fate, and 
througrh association effort comes to be reg^arded as an invo- 
cation. In this way the organized games become divinatory. 
This curious relation is well brought out in different publica- 
tions by Mr. Gushing, Mr. Mooney, and Mrs. Stevenson, and 
in a recent memoir by Doctor Hoffman which deals with 
Indian jugglery.^ Other lines of esthetic development lead 
toward graphic expression, and thus blend with decoration 
and eventually with pictorial and conventional symbolism, in 
which there is always a mythologic or divinatory element, as 
shown by Doctor Fewkes. 

Major Powell's researches among the Indians of the Rocky 
Mountain region led to the discrimination of certain stages in 
the development of social organization. The most fundamen- 

1 "The Menomini Indians," in Fourteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 
1896, pages 3-328. See also ibid., pages li-liv. 

Bureau of American Ethnology 389 

tal distinction brought to light was that between tribal society, 
which is organized on the basis of actual or assumed kinship, 
and national society, which springs from altruism and is com- 
monly organized on a territorial basis. As the researches 
progressed it was ascertained that tribal society, as exempli- 
fied by the American Indians and other primitive peoples, 
comprises two stages : in the earlier stage, commonly styled 
savagery, kinship is reckoned in the female line, and the 
kindred are grouped in clans ; in the second stage, which 
corresponds with barbarism as properly defined, kinship is 
reckoned in the male line, and the customary group of kindred 
is a gens. Both clans and gentes are grouped in tribes, and 
these groups may be combined in confederacies.-^ 

Nearly all of the American Indians belong to the tribal 
stage of society, though it would appear that the germ of 
feudal organization existed among some Mexican and Cen- 
tral American peoples, and was fairly matured in Peru at the 
time of discovery. Circumstances have thus far prevented 
detailed study of the most advanced social organizations, but 
the lower types have received much attention. Most of the 
tribes of the United States have been found to follow the clan 
system, though many are gentile ; it has been ascertained 
that the chieftaincy is usually hereditary, in clans or gens, 
and elective or selective among the individuals of the group 
on the basis of actual or assumed seniority. The greater 
part of the material accumulated and used in these studies 
is incorporated in a manuscript "Cyclopedia of Indian 
Tribes," now in preparation for the press chiefly by Mr. 
Hodge, though memoirs bearing on the subject have been 
published in several reports. 

Soon after the researches among the Rocky Mountain In- 

1 The earlier results of this work are summarized in the Third Annual Report of the 
Bureau of Ethnology, 1SS4, pages xxxv-lxii. 

390 The SiJiithsonian Institution 

dians began, Morgan's classic work on "Systems of Consan- 
guinity and Affinity of the Human Family " ^ was published, 
and the principles enumerated therein were carefully sub- 
mitted to the test of field observation during several succes 
sive seasons ; and when the bureau was instituted a part of 
the researches followed the lines indicated in Morgan's trea- 
tise. In this way a large body of material relating to abo- 
riginal kinship systems was accumulated and was utilized in 
the definition of stages in social development. It was ascer- 
tained that, while primarily real, the recognized kinship 
among primitive peoples is in part assumed, and that this 
assumption of kinship has far-reaching consequences, too 
numerous and complex for summary statement. 

During the progress of the anthropological researches of 
the Rocky Mountain Survey, Major Powell ascertained that 
the Indians have a system of tribal laws which are notably 
fair, comprehensive, and efficient. In the absence of writing 
there are no statutes, yet through the intricate system of pre- 
scriptorial association the laws are perpetuated almost as 
completely as, and inculcated much more generally than, the 
statutes of civilized peoples ; in nearly all tribes the code was 
crystallized in the tribal organization, in the names of indi- 
viduals and groups, in kinship and marital relations, in form 
of salutation, in the position of individuals about the camp- 
fire and of camps in the group, in the points of the compass, 
in colors, in symbols on arrow-shaft or garment or habita- 
tion, and in many other ways. When the bureau was insti- 
tuted, aboriginal law was found to form a fruitful field for re- 
search, and much information was collected. On comparing 
the facts discovered among many tribes, it was ascertained 
that the legal system of the Indians, while varying from place 
to place and from stage to stage in degree of development* 

1 "Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge," 1871, Volume xvii. 

Bureau of American Ethnology 391 

and while often singularly elaborate in plan and execution, 
rests on a simple and definite basis; the primary purpose of 
all Indian law is to prevent or settle dispute, and thus to 
promote peace and the welfare of the group. ^ 

When the bureau was instituted Director Powell gave 
careful attention to the subject of marriage, and ascertained 
that in America the forms known as endogamy and exogamy 
are simply two aspects of the same custom. In most tribes 
the laws relating to marriage are strict, and are regulated 
and enforced with prohibitions ; and, while the regulations 
vary, it is a generally observed law that a man may not 
marry in his own clan, but must marry in his own tribe, when 
the marriage is commonly arranged by the council ; so that 
the clan is exogamous, while the tribe is endogamous. Ac- 
cordingly, so far as the American Indians are concerned, 
endogamy and exogamy are correlative terms, useful in de- 
scription, but not expressing distinct stages in development. 
It was found that the regulations concerning marriage in the 
different tribes tend toward complexity, and that various de- 
vices are adopted to prevent them from becoming unduly 
onerous and inimical to tribal welfare : thus a prohibited mar- 
riage may be effected through elopement when, if the elopers 
are able to avoid vengeance for some period, the offense is 
condoned, and the couple eventually join the proper clan or 
gens ; in some cases provision is made for settling rival 
claims to the hand of a woman by wager of battle ; and in 
some cases there are regulations relating to marriage by cap- 
ture, in which the ordinary prohibition is suspended. A result 
of the researches relatinof to marriao-e amonof the Indians is 
the discovery that the blending of clans, the union of gentes, 
the confederation of tribes, and in general the combination 

1" Wyandot Government," in First Aiimial Bureau of Ethnology, 1S84, page Ivii. "On 
Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1881, Regimentation," Fifteenth Annual Report of 
pages S7~69- Third Annual Report of the the Bureauof Ethnology, i897,pagesciv-cxxi. 

392 The Smithsonian Institution 

and demotic development of the people were brought about 
through intermarriage, partly spontaneous, partly regulated 
by common law, and sometimes adopted by leaders to termi- 
nate intertribal strife. ^ 

The idea of property right was inchoate among the 
American aborigines, though moderately developed among 
the cultured people of the tropics and still clearer among 
some of the tribes in the Arctic, the natural home of thrift ; 
and the many stages in development exemplified among the 
tribes have offered opportunity for making much progress 
toward elucidating the natural history of property right. 
The subject was extensively treated by Director Powell, with 
primitive law and marriage customs, in several early reports. 

The initial researches showed that the distinction between 
opinions and beliefs among the Indians is vague, and does 
not agree with that found among cultured peoples. As the 
work progressed it was ascertained that the Indian philoso- 
phy and belief are fundamentally mystical. Among many 
tribes objects are vaguely supposed to have mysterious 
doubles in a vague ideal counterpart of the actual world, and 
the unknown is invested with shadowy and illimitable po- 
tency; and all of the Indians so far investigated carefully 
have been found to be mystics. The all-pervading "mys- 
tery" of Indian belief is hardly susceptible of definite trans- 
lation into civilized language, since the concept pertains to 
the prescriptorial stage of thought. Several stages in the 
development of the primitive belief have been discovered 
and subjected to comparative study, chiefly by Powell, and 
thereby light has been thrown on the natural history of so- 
phiology. The earliest clearly defined stage is that in which 
mysterious potencies are imputed to all objects, inanimate 

1 "Tribal Marriage Law," in Third Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1884, 

pages Ivi-lxii. 

Bureau of American Ethnology 393 

and animate; this has been called hecastotheism. In the 
second definite stage the mysterious potency is limited gen- 
erally to animate forms, though sometimes extending to plants 
and rarely to inorganic things ; this has been called zoothe- 
ism. Most of the tribes were in the higher of these stacjes, 
and their belief was bound up with every-day conduct and 
social organization in curious fashion. One expression of 
the belief was found in the clan nomenclature: nearly every 
clan or gens bore the name of an animal tutelary, and a picture 
of, or conventional symbol representing this animal was used 
as a clan totem. Some of the tribes were found to have 
advanced partly into the third stage of belief, in which the 
forces of nature are personified or deified; this is physithe- 
ism. Contrary to a popular notion originating in the se- 
cretiveness and shrewdness of the Indians with respect to 
matters of belief, it was ascertained that none of the native 
peoples thus far studied with care have advanced to the stage 
of spiritual concepts, or of psychotheism. With the qualifi- 
cations and limitations thus implied, all of the American 
tribes have been found to be polytheistic. Numerous publi- 
cations relating to this line of work, in which several collabo- 
rators aided, have been issued ; notably Powell's " Sketch of 
the Mythology of the North American Indians,"^ the basis of 
the later work. 

The beliefs of the Indians are crystallized in symbols and 
ceremonials, which are often highly elaborate. The simpler 
symbols, or fetiches, usually represent zoic deities ; these are 
adored through the symbols which, although held to be 
sacred, are not in themselves objects of worship. Commonly 
the fetiches are crude, vaguely suggesting, through pre- 
scriptorial association, the characteristics ascribed to the 
deities; among some tribes the beast-gods are more defi- 

1 First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, i88l, pages 19-56. 

394 TJie Smithso7iia7t Institution 

nitely represented by carvings and paintings, often in the 
form of masks ; among the Pueblo people and the advanced 
tribes of Mexico and Peru the deities were considered an- 
thropomorphic or zoomorphic at will, and were sometimes 
represented by idols of human form, either normal or mon- 
strous, symbolizing the personages of the barbaric pantheon. 
The more important symbols are intrusted to shamans or 
priests, who become sacred through association, and are 
kept in sacred places, sometimes developed into temples ; 
among many tribes the priesthood is an important and even 
dominant class. The simpler rights appear in every-day 
conduct; higher ceremonials are oblations in the presence of 
the fetiches, and these culminate in sacrifice of property, or 
of animal and even human life. The ordinary ceremonial is 
individual, but among the tribes investigated there are elab- 
orate collective ceremonials usually extending over several 
days, and occurring several times annually. In general, the 
Indians are profoundly devout believers, whose faith controls 
action in greater degree than is realized in higher culture. 

Under the terms of law the collections made by the bureau 
are transferred to the United States National Museum ; and 
it has been found convenient and profitable to maintain inti- 
mate relations with that branch of the Institution and con- 
stantly to base the laboratory researches on the anthropologi- 
cal material from all sources stored in the museum. Exten- 
sive collections have been made directly for the enrichment 
of the museum as an assemblage of objective material re- 
lating to the American Indians. The collections made by 
Director Powell while in charge of the Rocky Mountain 
Survey are particularly noteworthy ; they comprise imple- 
ments and weapons, costumery, gaming devices, symbolic 
and ceremonial objects, and are especially rich in native veg- 
etal food-substances ; they may be considered to form the 

Bureau of Atfierican Ethnology 395 

nucleus of the ethnologic department of the museum. Ample 
collections were made also by the Stevensons, by Professor 
Holmes and Mr. Mooney, and by other collaborators ; re- 
cently Doctor Fewkes has gathered unprecedentedly abun- 
dant stores of decorated pottery from the Pueblo country ; 
and the writer has added some unique material from the 
Papago country, as well as from the interior of Seriland, 
never before visited by white men. 

The publications issued to date comprise fourteen annual 
reports embracing fifty-nine appended memoirs (three addi- 
tional reports, embracing twelve memoirs, are in press) ; 
twenty-four bulletins, each containing a special paper or 
memoir; eight volumes of " Contributions to North Ameri- 
can Ethnology"; four "Introductions" issued for the use of 
correspondents and collaborators ; and a few miscellaneous 

The manuscript collections are voluminous. Under the 
plan of limiting publication to important descriptive matter 
and to thoroughly digested scientific results, the major part 
of the observations remain unpublished, though in constant 
use. The unique manuscripts and most of the original 
records are kept in fire-proof vaults under more than two 
thousand titles; the material for the "Cyclopedia of Indian 
Tribes " is recorded on a hundred thousand cards ; and there 
are several hundred manuscripts prepared by the Director, 
the different collaborators, and many correspondents which 
are not catalogued. Advantage has been taken of every 
opportunity to make or acquire photographs of Indians and 
their works; and the files now include about twenty-five 
hundred portraits, with some twenty-five hundred groups, 
houses, ceremonials, and other subjects. During the last 
three years publication has been pushed forward more rapidly 
than hitherto, for it is realized that the material pertaining to 

39^ The Smithsonian Institution 

most lines of research is now sufficiently voluminous to war- 
rant thorough study and final issue. 

These paragraphs do no more than touch lightly on salient 
points in the history, policy, and work of the Bureau of Ameri- 
can Ethnology. The field is vast, and the lines of research 
are many; and it has ever been the aim of Director Powell 
and his collaborators so to select and pursue lines of work as 
to aid in creating and diffusing among men definite knowledge 
concerning the American aborigines as one of the great 
branches of mankind. Accordingly the small library of re- 
ports published and the small assemblage of objects collected 
through the work of the bureau contribute toward the me- 
morial to Smithson, the founder, and Henry, the organizer, 
of the parent institution of American science. At the same 
time the work of the bureau is a tribute to the foresight, 
liberality, and wisdom of the statesmen who have endowed 
and sustained the " researches concerning the American 



By William Crawford Winlock 

^1)HE "diffusion of knowledg-e," which, next to 
its " increase," was so prominently in the 
mind of the founder of the Smithsonian In- 
stitution, was provided for in the program of 
organization, submitted by Professor Henry 
to the Board of Regents in 1847, by a system of pubHca- 
tions and their exchange ^ and distribution throughout the 

In his report for 1851 Professor Henry describes the ex- 
change system, organized for the purpose of distributing the 
first volume of the Institution's publications, as an extension 
of a system which had then been in operation, on a small 
scale, for nearly half a century between the American Philo- 
sophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and 
Sciences on this side of the Atlantic, and several scientific 
societies abroad. While the Smithsonian Institution ex- 
changes had no direct connection with those established 

1 Reference should be made to a "History history of the exchange service with copies 

of the Smithsonian Exchanges," by George of official documents relating to ils develop- 

H. Boehmer, printed in tlie" Smithsonian Re- ment. This manuscript has been consulted 

port" for 1881. Mr. Boehmer had also pre- in the preparation of the following brief ac- 

pared the manuscript for a more complete count of the exchanges. 

26* 397 


The Smithsonian ItistiUition 

between national governments by Vattemare,^ it soon super- 
seded all other plans for international exchanges. 

It is not without interest to briefly allude to the earlier 
efforts of this kind. In 1694 the Royal Library of France 
exchanged its duplicate volumes for new books printed in 
foreign countries, and about the beginning of the present 
century the American Philosophical Society and the Ameri- 
can Academy of Arts and Sciences instituted the exchange to 
which Professor Henry refers. 

Monsieur Vattemare about 1832 made an effort to estab- 
lish an exchange of duplicates between some of the principal 
libraries of Europe, and succeeded in interesting many of 
the governments in the work, though his efforts do not seem 
to have been rewarded with the success they merited. 

He visited the United States in 1839, and secured the 
interest and cooperation of many prominent men in official 
life. On his second visit to the United States in 1848 he 
was designated as the agent for the Library of Congress to 
conduct the exchange between France and the United States. 

Another effort to establish a system of exchanges, chiefly 
of natural history specimens, was made by the National Insti- 
tute in May, 1840, which resulted in securing many valuable 
additions to the national collection. 

The United States government, in addition to assisting 
Monsieur Vattemare, had on several occasions indicated its 
desire of effecting exchanges with foreign governments. By 

1 Alexandre Vattemare was born in Paris 
November 8, 1796, and died there April 7, 
1864. He was educated as a surgeon, but 
became a professional ventriloquist, lieing 
well known both in Europe and America. 
Subsequently he gave up this occupation to 
urge the adoption of a system of exchange of 
duplicate books between libraries, especially 
of government publications, but afterward 
extended the system to include art objects, 

maps, specimens of natural history, and other 
siniilar articles. He came to the United 
States in 1839, and again in 1847. He is 
credited with being the means of adding 
300,000 volumes to the liljraries of this coun- 
try. The correspondence of M. Vattemare 
with the National Institute, in which he has 
set forth at some length the progress of 
his i^lan for international exchanges, will 
be found of much interest. 







- emare/ it soon ^' 
..ciLi^nal exchange? 
:st to briefly al' .rlier 

In 1694 the Royal Library of 

for new books printed in 
'^•"nnino- of thp present 

Arts arici bcicnces instituted the e: o 

V i-^rotessor Hei "ers. 

Monsieur mare about 1832 made an ef! 

li^h an pvrhnnae of duplicates between some of ...^ ^.....^.^^. 

"oe, and succeeded in interestr - of 

his efforts 

^Q, and secured the 

ac^ in 184^ ^- 

ijrary of ress to 

c t the nd the United s. 

:t to estab. stem of exchanges, 

of natural history specimens, was made by the Natio'^ ,.,Ji- 
tute in May, 1840, which rjssulted in securing man ^ ' 


ii addition to assisting 

I He is 

becan ng 

v,l1 .1- 

ion of a system c :»e has 

''-•■' -f 


,KOITTJTITa>Ii /.AlKOaHTIi/.ci 'ART 'dO i-JOJJ30^AH0 HT^dra 


The International Exchange System 399 

the Act of July 20, 1840, the Librarian of Congress was author- 
ized to exchange duplicates in the library for other books or 
works. By the act of March 4, 1846, he was directed "to 
procure a complete series of reports of the United States 
Congress and of the laws of the United States, and trans- 
mit them to the Minister of Justice of France, in exchange 
for works of French law presented to the United States 
Supreme Court." "By a resolution of June 30, 1848, it was 
ordered that the joint committee on the library be furnished 
with twenty-five copies of the Revolutionary archives, twenty- 
five copies of Little and Brown's edition of the "Laws of the 
United States," and seven copies of the exploring expedition, 
then published, and an equal number of subsequent publica- 
tions on the same subject, for the purpose of international 

The first volume of Smithsonian publications issued was 
a memoir on the ancient monuments of the Mississippi Valley 
by Squier and Davis, published in 1848 and distributed in the 
following year. It was found that after agencies were estab- 
lished in different parts of the world for the exchange of the 
Institution's own publications, other exchanges could be car- 
ried on through them at slight additional expense, and the 
Smithsonian Institution accordingly offered to other institu- 
tions of learning, and in some cases to individuals, the 
privilege of sending and receiving small packages through 
these agencies. 

The plan of conducting the foreign exchange was to issue 
at stated periods a circular to the effect that the Smithsonian 
Institution was then making preparations to send copies of 
its publications to the different libraries and societies in Europe 
and other parts of the world, and that it would undertake 

1 '' Public Libraries in the United States of America, their History, Condition, and 
Management." Special Report, Bureau of Education, 1876, part i, page 284. 

400 The Smithsonian Institution 

the transmission and safe delivery of the pubHcations of 
other American institutions, in accordance with certain rules, 
providing, in effect, that the packages should be properly- 
wrapped, addressed, and delivered to the Institution in Wash- 
ington accompanied by a detailed invoice. 

No charge was made for the expense of sending from 
Washington if the parcels were of moderate bulk, though 
the right to make a charge proportional to the actual ex- 
pense incurred by the Institution was reserved in some 

These facilities soon proved of such value that the ex- 
change service assumed a much wider importance than could 
have well been anticipated, though, as far as the exchange 
of the Smithsonian publications proper was concerned, the 
principal object was not so much to procure a large library 
for the Institution as to diffuse among men a knowledge of 
the new truths discovered by the agency of the Smithsonian 

Professor Henry said in 1852 :^ 

" The worth and importance of the Institution are not to be 
estimated by what it accumulates within the walls of its build- 
ing, but by what it sends forth to the world. Its great mis- 
sion is to facilitate the use of all the implements of research, 
and to diffuse the knowledge which this use may develop. 
The Smithsonian publications are sent to some institutions 
abroad, and to the great majority of those at home, without 
any return except, in some cases, that of cooperation in 
meteorological and other observations. 

"In carrying out this plan, the Institution is much indebted 
to the liberal course adopted by the government of Great 
Britain, and to the ready cooperation of the Royal Society 
of London. All packages intended for Great Britain, for 
some parts of the continent, and the East Indies, are directed 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1852, pages 20 and 21. 

The International Exchange System 401 

to the care of the Royal Society, and, on the certificate of its 
President, are, by a special order of the government, admitted 
duty free, and without the delay and risk of inspection." 

And in 1854: ^ 

"There is, therefore, no port to which the Smithsonian 
parcels are shipped where duties are charged on them — a 
certified invoice of contents by the Secretary being sufficient 
to pass them through the custom-house free of duty. On the 
other hand, all packages addressed to the Institution, arriving 
at the ports of the United States, are admitted, without deten- 
tion, duty free. This system of exchange is, therefore, the 
most extensive and efficient which has ever been established 
in any country." 

An essential feature of the orLjanizatlon of the Smithsonian 
exchange service was to secure the cooperation of an im- 
portant scientific society or permanent library in the principal 
foreicjn countries willingf to undertake the distribution of the 
publications it might receive for institutions in its neigh- 
borhood. In many instances, also, members of the diplo- 
matic and consular service of the United States rendered 
efficient aid, and several prominent publishing houses like- 
wise acted as local agents. 

The following communication" from Sir Edward Sabine, 
who later became President of the Royal Society, shows the 
deep interest manifested in this movement : 

"Royal Society's Apartments, 
"Somerset House, London, March 19, 1852. 

"My Dear Sir: 

"I duly communicated to the Earl of Rosse, President of the 
Royal Society, your letter to me on the subject of the inter- 

1 "Smithsonian Report," 1854, page 21. Reports of Committees, Statistics," etc. 

2 Rliees, William J. "The Smithsonian In- Washington, 1S79, page 82. Also Boehmer, 
stitution: Journals of the Board of Regents, George H.," History of Exchanges," page 1 1. 

402 The Smithsonian Institution 

change of scientific publications between the United States 
and this country, and the admission into England, duty free, 
of scientific books and memoirs presented to institutions or to 
individuals here, either by or through the Smithsonian Insti- 
tution. I accompanied this communication by a letter ad- 
dressed to the President, which you will read in the enclosed 
printed minutes of the Council of the Royal Society of January 
15, 1852, The subject has since been brought by the Earl 
of Rosse under the consideration of Her Majesty's govern- 
ment, who have shown, as might be expected, much readiness 
to meet, in the same spirit, the liberal example which has 
been set by the United States, in exempting from duty scien- 
tific books sent as presents from this country to the Smith- 
sonian Institution, and through that Institution to other insti- 
tutions, and to individuals, cultivating science in the United 
States. The mode which has been suggested by our Board 
of Customs, for admitting duty free scientific publications de- 
signed for this country, and which, we hope, will receive the 
approval of the Treasury, is, that a list should be furnished by 
the Royal Society of the names of all institutions and indi- 
viduals to whom such works may be expected to be addressed, 
when the custom-house officers will have directions to pass 
without duty all such publications having the names of such 
institutions or persons inscribed either on the cover or on the 
title-page, which are sent to this country in packages directed 
to the Royal Society — the list to be amended or extended 
from time to time. The Royal Society will gladly take charge 
of and distribute under these regulations the books which the 
Smithsonian Institution may send for institutions and indi- 
viduals in this country, receiving them from the agent in 
London appointed by the Smithsonian Institution ; and I 
shall be obliged by your furnishing me, at your earliest con- 
venience, with a list, as complete as you may be able to make 
it, of the names of the institutions and persons to whom books 
or memoirs are likely to be sent. 

"The Royal Society will also gladly receive and forward to 
their ultimate destination (where such assistance may be use- 
ful) packages containing publications of a similar description, 

The International Exchange System 403 

designed for institutions and individuals on the continent of 
Europe ; such packages being directed to the Royal Society, 
and stated on the outside of the case or package to be from 
the Smithsonian Institutio7i. The customs' duties will, in 
such cases, be either altogether remitted or returned on re- 

"If it be a convenience to the cultivators of science in the 
United States, that publications presented to them by insti- 
tutions or individuals on the continent of Europe, or else- 
where, should be addressed to the Royal Society as a channel 
of communication, the same faciUties will be given by the 
Board of Customs, and the Royal Society will, with pleasure, 
make the required arrangements. It will be necessary, in 
such cases, that packages arriving from the continent of 
Europe or elsewhere should be marked on the outside, y^r///^ 
SmitJisonian Institution, and the foreign Secretary of the 
Royal Society should be apprised of their being sent. Ex- 
penses of freight would of course be defrayed by the agent 
of the Smithsonian Institution. 

"I remain, my dear sir, with great respect and regard, 
"Very sincerely yours, 

"Edward Sabine, 

" Vice-President and Treasurer of the Boyal Society." 

An interesting special use of the exchange system took 
place in 1867, when, at the suggestion of the Honorable 
John Bigelow, a former Minister to France, a request was 
made by the Institution that some of the principal publishers 
of school-books in this country should furnish copies of their 
elementary text-books, in order that they might be presented 
to Professor Laboulaye, of the College of France, for exami- 
nation, with a view to the application of some of their pe- 
culiar features to the purposes of instruction in his own 
country. In response to this request, nearly two hundred 
volumes of school text-books were furnished by the princi- 

404 The Smithsonimi Institution 

pal publishers In the United States, and received with warm 
thanks by Professor Laboulaye. 

In recognition of the disinterested work of the Institution, 
many of the principal steamship companies granted to it im- 
portant concessions in free freight, and without this friendly 
aid the system could scarcely have grown to the proportion 
it has now attained. Among others the Secretary made 
special acknowledgment in earlier years of obligations to the 
United States Mail Steamship Company, the Panama Rail- 
road Company, and the Pacific Mail Steamship Company ; 
to the North German Lloyd, to the Cunard Steamship Com- 
pany, and to many of the principal publishing houses in this 

The Royal Society, after acting as the agent of the Insti- 
tution for several years, found in 1862 the constantly increas- 
ing duties of distributing exchanges somewhat burdensome. 
It was, therefore, deemed necessary to establish a salaried 
agency at the expense of the Institution, to be located in 
London, for Great Britain and its colonies. Messrs. William 
Wesley & Son, booksellers, at 28 Essex Street, Strand, 
were appointed the London agents. 

For the same reason that made a change necessary in the 
administration of the affairs of the Institution in Great Brit- 
ain, Doctor Felix Fliigel, of Leipsic, was appointed to at- 
tend to exchange matters between Germany and the United 
States, and subsequently exchanges between the United 
States and Austria-Hungary and also Switzerland, were con- 
ducted through the Leipsic agency. 

With the exception of the agencies of the Institution in 
Great Britain and Germany, there are at present no salaried 
officers of the Institution in foreign countries, all transactions 
being conducted gratuitously, either by foreign official ex- 
change bureaus or by libraries or scientific institutions which 

The International Exchange Systein 405 

have willingly assumed the task for the benefit that may 
accrue from the service. 

So useful had this exchange system become within the first 
ten years of its existence that in 1855 ^^ following commu- 
nication ^ was forwarded by Professor Asa Gray, the Secre- 
tary of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, to Pro- 
fessor Henry : 

"American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 
" Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, 

"August, 1855. 
" My Dear Sir : 

"The following extract from the record of the annual 
meeting in May last has just been furnished me by the re- 
cording secretary : 

" ' Professor Agassiz referred to the allusion in the libra- 
rian's report to the Smithsonian Institution, and expressed in 
strong language his sense of indebtedness of the scientific 
world to that Institution, for its enlightened efforts to diffuse 
knowledge, particularly as a medium of exchange of publica- 
tions. In conclusion, he moved that the thanks of the acad- 
emy be p7^esented to the Smithsonian Institution for its 
efficient agcjicy in effecting for the acade7ny its exchanges 
with societies and individuals, which was unanimously 

"I have great pleasure in forwarding to you the vote of 
the academy, in obedience to its instructions. 

" And I remain, very respectfully, 

" Your obedient, faithful servant, 

" Asa Gray, 

" Corresponding Secretary" 

The Smithsonian exchange service was early taken ad- 
vantage of by the bureaus of the United States government 
to effect the distribution of their technical publications to 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1855, page 79. 

4o6 The Smithsonian Instihttion 

foreign libraries and the collection of similar reports in return, 
and between the years 1851 and 1867 it is estimated that 
over twenty thousand packages of such government publica- 
tions were carried by the exchange service, at an approximate 
cost to the private fund of the Institution of over eight thou- 
sand dollars. 

The government exchanges, however, were in a chaotic 
condition until the enactment of a joint resolution, approved 
March 2, 1867, that fifty copies of all documents printed by 
order of either House of Congress, or by order of any de- 
partment or bureau of the government, should be placed at 
the disposal of the joint committee on library, who should 
exchange the same, through the agency of the Smithsonian 
Institution, for similar works published in foreign countries; 
these works to be deposited in the Library of Congress. 

Respecting this system Professor Henry said ^ in 1870, in 
his testimony concerning the expenditure of the Smithson 
fund, before an English government scientific commission, 
of which the Duke of Devonshire was chairman and Sir 
John Lubbock and Professor Huxley members : 

" There is one part of the operations which I have not 
sufficiently dwelt upon, and that is the system of international 
exchansfes. In order to send the volumes of Smithsonian 
Contributions over the world, the Institution has agents; 
an agent in this city, an agent in Paris, an agent in Leip- 
sic, an agent in Amsterdam, and another in Norway ; and 
every year the volumes of the Institution are sent to these 
aofents for distribution, and with them the transactions and 
proceedings of all the societies of the United States, and 
also of Canada, and of South America. For example, all the 
Canadian institutions send copies of their publications to the 
Institution, and then the Institution distributes them over the 
world, and receives in return for the several donors the pro- 

1 Rhees, William J, "Journals of the Uoard of Regents," etc., page 782. 

The International Exchange System 407 

ceedings and transactions of foreign societies. This part of 
the operations costs about ^1,000 sterHng a year, but it is 
considered of great importance in the way of making science 
one in all countries. This is considered a very important 
part of the plan of operations. Not only are books dis- 
tributed, but the Institution has commenced the practice of 
distributing specimens of natural history over the world and 
getting others in exchange. As an interesting fact in con- 
nection with this system, I may mention that all the lines of 
steamers, the Cunard line of steamers, the German Lloyds' 
steamers, and the lines from San Francisco, all convey the 
Smithsonian packages free of cost, and also that they are 
admitted through all custom-houses without being opened, 
and free from all duties in all countries. 

" Doctor Sharpey : Do you receive for the societies in 
America, for example, from the societies in London, and dis- 
tribute those exchanges to the societies in America? — Yes, 
for all the societies. The great object is to facilitate in 
every possible way the promotion of science, and especially 
the fostering of original research, and enlarging the bounds 
of human thought. It is a matter of surprise that the idea is 
not more generally understood by statesmen and legislators, 
that modern civilization depends upon science, including the 
knowledge of the forces of nature, and the modes in which 
they become the agents of man. Every discovery is con- 
nected with good. Even the human body cannot be properly 
understood without a knowledo-e of that of all other ororan- 
ized beings." 

The resolution of Congress carried no appropriation, so 
that it was not until 1873 that the exchange actually began, 
and its operation was necessarily restricted, owing to the 
large drain made upon the funds of the Institution. Never- 
theless, Mr. Ainsworth R. Spofford was enabled to say of 
this work in 1876^ that "the Smithsonian Institution has 

1 " Public Libraries in the United States of America, their History, Condition, and 
Management." Special Report, Bureau of Education, 1S76, part I, page 684. 

4o8 The Smithsonian Institution 

rendered incalculable service to the scientific development 
of this country through its broad and liberal system of ex- 
chanpfes with learned societies throug-hout the world." And 
in 1881 ^ Professor Baird stated that 

" No one of the various operations carried on by the 
Smithsonian Institution is of more importance in the advance- 
ment of science than that of the international exchange of 
publications between the governments and their bureaus, de- 
partments, the learned institutions, and scientific men of the 
two worlds. Notwithstanding the increase of the govern- 
mental international system, in which quite a number of 
nations have joined, the work of the Smithsonian Institution 
still continues to be of preeminent magnitude and impor- 
tance. Originally initiated for the purpose of distributing the 
publications of the Smithsonian Institution to libraries, socie- 
ties, and learned men abroad, and to receive returns for the 
same, it was gradually extended so as to take within its 
sphere all the establishments in the New World requiring 
a similar service. Indeed, by its system of agencies in vari- 
ous portions of the world to which packages were sent for 
transmission to destination, and where returns were gathered 
and forwarded to Washington, it maintained an arrangement 
of its own, entirely independent of any other organization." 

Congress had, as already mentioned, even as early as 
1840, taken into consideration the exchange of its documents 
for similar works of foreign governments, and, as the result of 
Monsieur Vattemare's efforts, in 1846 provision was made for 
exchanging a complete set of the laws of the United States 
with the French government, while in 1848 the joint com- 
mittee on the library was authorized to appoint exchange 
agents for the exchange of books and public documents for 
the use of the United States, for any single State, or for the 

1 "Smithsonian Report," i88l, page 30. 

The International Exchange System 409 

Academy in West Point, or for the National Institute — all 
these to be admitted free of duty. 

Special acts for the exchange of specific volumes were 
passed in 1848, 1849, and 1856, but the first general law for 
the exchano^e of United States documents was that enacted 
in 1867, a joint resolution being approved on March 2 of that 
year to the effect : 

"That fifty copies of all documents hereafter printed by 
order of either House of Congress, and fifty copies additional 
of all documents printed in excess of the usual number, to- 
gether with fifty copies of each publication issued by any 
department or bureau of the government, be placed at the 
disposal of the Joint Committee on the Library, who shall 
exchange the same, through the agency of the Smithsonian 
Institution, for such works published in foreign countries, and 
especially by foreign governments, as may be deemed by 
said committee an equivalent ; said works to be deposited in 
the Library of Congress." 

While this resolution carried with it no appropriation, 
Professor Henry at once undertook the preliminary corre- 
spondence necessary to carry it into effect by addressing a 
circular letter, through the Department of State, to the dip- 
lomatic representatives of the United States and foreign 
countries and to the foreign ministers accredited to this gov- 
ernment, stating the object of the resolution, and asking the 
cooperation of foreign governments in carrying it out. To 
this circular letter very general and satisfactory replies were 
received, each government responding offering to send com- 
plete series of its publications in return for those of the 
United States. It was not until 1873, however, that the first 
transmission of documents abroad was made by the Insti- 

In 1875 ^i^ International Geographical Congress was held 

4IO The S^nithsonian Institution 

in Paris, at which was discussed, as a matter closely allied 
to the main objects of the Congress, a uniform system for 
exchanging the scientific and literary publications of all coun- 
tries. The commission, under the presidency of Baron de 
Vatteville, submitted to the different governments repre- 
sented, a detailed plan for international exchanges, and in 
1878, as the result of correspondence between the Smith- 
sonian Institution and the Department of State, the Institu- 
tion was recognized by the Secretary of State as the special 
agent for the United States government to carry out the 
suggestion of the convention, which involved not only the 
exchange of official documents, but of the publications of 
learned societies as well, the exchange of official documents 
with the governments represented being, in the case of the 
United States, for the benefit of the Library of Congress. 

Further conferences upon the subject were held in Brus- 
sels in 1877 and 1880, and again, after six years' experience 
of the working of the plan proposed in Paris, a general con- 
ference was called by the Belgian government in 1883. The 
United States government was represented at this latter 
conference by its resident minister, Honorable Nicholas Fish, 
and later by his successor. Honorable Lambert Tree, and the 
draft of articles of agreement for the international exchange 
system proposed was in due time communicated by the De- 
partment of State to the Smithsonian Institution for criti- 
cism. These articles of agreement having been submitted 
to the contracting powers, a conference was called in Brus- 
sels on March 15, 1886, at which they were signed by duly 
accredited diplomatic representatives, and the convention was 
laid before Congress and ratified by the President July 19, 
1888. Ratifications were finally exchanged, and the conven- 
tion was proclaimed by the President on January 15, 1889. 
There were, in fact, two conventions adopted, the first for the 

The Interyiational Exchange System 4 1 1 

" International Exchange of Official Documents, Scientific 
and Literary Publications," and the second for the "Imme- 
diate Exchange of the Official Journals, Parliamentary 
Annals and Documents " of the States interested. 

The first convention was entered into by Belgium, Brazil, 
Italy, Portugal, Servia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United 
States. Its essential provisions were that each State should 
establish an Exchange Bureau, and should provide for the 
interchange of the respective official documents, parliamen- 
tary and administrative, and other works executed at govern- 
ment expense, each State assuming the cost of packing and 
transportation to the place of destination, except that where 
the transmissions were to be made by sea special arrange- 
ments might regulate the share of expense to be borne. 

It was also provided that the official exchange bureaus 
should act as intermediaries between the learned bodies and 
literary and scientific societies of the contracting States, 
for the reception and free transmission of their publications. 

The second convention, which was adopted by the same 
countries, with the exception of Switzerland, provided for the 
transmission to the leg^islative chambers of each contracting 
State immediately upon publication of copies of the respec- 
tive official journals and the parliamentary annals and docu- 
ments that are made public. 

To these conventions Uruguay and Peru subsequently 
gave their adherence, so that there are now ten States, in- 
cluding the United States, under treaty obligations to main- 
tain exchange relations. The carrying out of this obligation 
on the part of the United States, as far as the first treaty was 
concerned, did not change the prevailing conduct of the ex- 
change service carried on by the Smithsonian Institution. 
To the second treaty, the immediate exchange of official 
journals, effect has not been given by the United States 

412 The Smithsonian Institution 

through lack of legislation placing the necessary documents 
at the disposal of the Exchange Bureau and making an ap- 
propriation for the clerical assistance and postage ; nor has 
this treaty apparently been fully carried out, as yet, by any 
of the contracting nations. 

The absence of several of the principal nations — England, 
France, Germany, and Russia — from the treaty will be 
noted ; but with these countries, as the result of the informal 
agreement reached with the Institution under the act of Con- 
gress of 1867, special exchange relations have been main- 
tained by the United States, and in France and Russia the 
governments support official exchange bureaus as part of 
their administrative service, while between England and Ger- 
many and the United States special arrangements have been 
made for the exchange of official documents, though with 
none of these countries, with perhaps the exception of Eng- 
land, is there any approach to an official exchange at all 
equitable to the United States — a condition, in part, due to 
the fact that no country publishes on so liberal a scale as our 
own. That this may, perhaps, be remedied by personal rep- 
resentation to the many and scattered publishing offices of 
foreign governments seems probable from the results secured 
in 1885, when Mr. George H. Boehmer, as representative of 
the Library of Congress and of the International Exchange 
Office, visited many of the principal countries of Europe, and 
secured a large number of documents for the Library of 

The Institution now receives fifty sets of all documents 
issued by the Government Printing Office, and despatches to 
foreign countries forty-three sets. Each country receives in 
four instalments an average, annually, of about two hundred 
and thirty-one volumes, and three hundred and seven pamph- 
lets, the transmissions being made to the designated gov- 

The International Exchange System 413 

ernment library corresponding to our own Library of 

The entire cost of the exchange service was borne at first 
by the Smithsonian fund, although from the very first the 
facilities of the service were placed at the disposal of govern- 
ment bureaus engaged in scientific work. An idea of the 
increase in the cost may be had from a glance at the accounts 
of expenditures for this purpose, which shows that from 1846 
to 1850 the cost of exchanges was $1,603. For the year 
i860 alone it was $2,348.04. In 1870 it had grown to 
$4,165.62. In 1876 the distribution of government docu- 
ments was first made extensively, and the cost increased to 
$10,199.10, while in 1885 it was $13,307.59, and in 1895, 

The Institution continued to maintain the exchange service 
at its own expense until 1881, when the first appropriation of 
$3,000 was granted by Congress ; and without reference to 
aid given by the Institution to government bureaus for their 
exchange service between 1851 and 1867, during which 
period it is estimated that over twenty thousand packages of 
publications were transported for the national government, 
at a cost of about $8,000, from January i, 1868, to June 30, 
1886, the Institution advanced for the support of the Inter- 
national exchange system in the interest and by the authority 
of the national government, $38,141.01 in excess of the 
appropriations for the exchange of official government docu- 
ments and $7,034.81 in excess of appropriations from July i, 
1886, to June 30, 1889, for the purpose of carrying out the 
convention entered into by the United States — an aggregate 
advance of $45, 1 75.82. 

As now conducted, the rules for the control of the exchange 
service provide, in addition to the distribution of the United 
States government publications to foreign libraries, for the 

4H The Smithsonian Instihition 

distribution to certain accessible points abroad of books, 
pamphlets, charts, and other printed matter sent as donations 
or exchanges from literary and scientific societies or individ- 
uals to correspondents abroad, and involve no expense to the 
sender beyond that of delivery to the Smithsonian Institu- 
tion in Washington. No charge is made to the receiver, 
except in some instances the small cost of delivery from the 
Smithsonian agent or correspondent nearest him. Similar 
material sent from abroad to this country is forwarded to the 
recipient without expense to him, the packages having been 
delivered free of freight charges to the foreign agent or cor- 
respondent of the Institution. The Institution is, by special 
act of Congress, enabled to transmit packages in this country 
under frank. 

To describe somewhat more in detail the methods now 
employed in the Exchange Office, I would say that a scien- 
tific society or individual in the United States desiring to 
send publications abroad as donations or exchanges should 
have each package transmitted strongly wrapped and sepa- 
rately and legibly addressed, being careful to give the full 
local address, and should send them in bulk, carriage pre- 
paid, to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The 
separate packages should not exceed one-half of one cubic 
foot in bulk, and they should not contain letters or written 

Before transmission, a list of packages, with the address 
on each package, is to be mailed by the sender to the Smith- 
sonian Institution when sent from the United States, or to 
the foreign agent of the Institution when sent from abroad. 
The Institution must be informed by mail of each sending on 
the day of transmission. 

Upon the receipt of the consignment at the Institution each 
package is assigned an " invoice number," the same number 

The Internatiojial Exchange System 415 

applying- to all packages of that consignment, and a record is 
made of the entire list of packages under the sender's name. 
The separate packages are also entered under the name of 
the person or office addressed. An account is thus estab- 
lished with every correspondent of the Institution, which 
shows readily what packages each one has sent or received 
through the Exchange Bureau. The books are then packed 
with invoices from other senders, and are forwarded by 
freight to the bureau or agency abroad which has under- 
taken to distribute exchanges in that country. To Great 
Britain and Germany, where paid agencies of the Institution 
are maintained, shipments are made about three times a 
month ; to other countries at greater intervals. 

Each package sent out contains a receipt card bearing an 
"invoice number" identical with that upon the package. 
This invoice number should be carefully noted, as it is the 
only means of identifying the package, and it is of the 
greatest importance that the recipient should sign and re- 
turn the acknowledgment without delay. The receipt having 
been filed in the Exchange Office the record of that particu- 
lar package is made complete, while failure to return the 
receipt card gives rise to a doubt as to the correctness of 
the address, and future packages for that address may be 
returned to the sender. 

Transmissions from abroad are received by freight in large 
boxes and are distributed in the United States under frank 
by registered mail, a record first having been made of the 
name of the sender and of the address of each package. A 
receipt card, returnable by mail without postage, is sent with 
each of these packages, and should be forwarded at once by 
the recipient in acknowledgment of the package. 

The Institution and its agents will not knowingly receive 
for any address purchased books, nor apparatus and instru- 

41 6 The Smithsonian Instittttion 

ments, philosophical, medical, etc. (including microscopes), 
whether purchased or presented ; nor specimens of natural 
history, except where special permission from the Institution 
has been obtained. 

The first volume of " Smithsonian Contributions to Know- 
ledge " was distributed in 1849 to 173 foreign institutions, 
virtually representing the Institution's foreign exchange work 
at its inception. 

In 1852, the first year for which any detailed report of the 
exchange operations is given, 572 packages were sent out by 
the Institution and 637 packages were received, though each 
of the packages sent and received may embrace several " arti- 
cles." In i860 a total of 4822 packages passed through the 
Exchange Office; in 1870, 5510; in 1880, 20,845; in 1890, 
82,572; in 1895, 107,118 — the entire weight in 1895 being 
326,955 pounds, or about 164 tons. 

It is difficult, without the actual presentation of statistical 
tables, to give an adequate idea of the result of this exchange 
system. Moreover, prior to 1885, when the government 
exchange may be fairly said to have been begun, and when 
Congressional appropriations enabled the Institution to em- 
ploy a force which allowed of the collection of proper statis- 
tics, 390,488 titles were received from all sources abroad for 
the libraries of the United States; of which 217,140 came 
to the Library of Congress, the library of the Smithsonian, 
and the libraries of the various departments and bureaus of 
the government, 136,810 to various institutions throughout 
the country, and 36,538 to individuals. 

During the past decade accurate statistics have been 
kept not only for the entire country, but for the various 
States in the Union. If I had space to discuss them, 
the figures would present some most interesting features. 
Roughly, it may be said that the number of titles received 

The International Exchange System 417 

from foreitrn countries and distributed to institutions and 
individuals in the United States from 1886 to 1895 bor- 
dered upon 344,078, being- almost equivalent to the activity 
of the previous forty years, and fully justifying the treaties 
made by the United States and the expenditure incurred. 
It should be noted, however, that the return to this coun- 
try from foreign countries is by no means equivalent 
to the quantity sent abroad, since during the same period 
601,637 titles were sent by the government, by institutions, 
and by individuals of the United States for foreign distribu- 
tion. The list by States is most instructive. In the ship- 
ment abroad the District of Columbia naturally leads, the 
older States with many institutions heading the list. Massa- 
chusetts stands first. New York second, Pennsylvania third, 
and Connecticut fourth. It is a matter to be noted, and one 
in every way commendable to the scientific activity of the 
great State on the Pacific Coast, that California stands fifth 
in this list, being closely followed by Illinois; Missouri fol- 
lows, Maryland stands next, being followed successively by 
Ohio and Wisconsin. The returns are even more instruct- 
ive ; and, strangely enough, the order in returns does not 
agree with the order in the amount of sending. In this 
second list the District of Columbia, as before, leads, Penn- 
sylvania following, succeeded by New York, Massachusetts, 
California, Missouri, Minnesota, Maryland, Wisconsin, and 

Without entering into the detail of the clerical work of the 
office, it will be sufficient to say that a ledger account is kept 
with each individual or institution from which a package is 
received in the Exchange Office, or to which a package is 
sent, the record identifying the sender as well as the receiver. 
To facilitate this work and abbreviate the records, there was 
compiled and published in 1862 a list of foreign addresses, 

41 B The Smithsonian Institution 

arranged geographically, and including the principal libra- 
ries, societies, and government offices and journals with which 
the Institution was in correspondence. To each of these 
titles an arbitrary number was given for the sake of con- 
venience of reference. A revision of this " List of Foreign 
Correspondents of the Smithsonian Institution " was made in 
1895 by Mr. George H. Boehmer, and it now embraces 
10,765 libraries and 12,643 individuals — a total of 23,408 
addresses, distributed in 3771 different cities or places. 

The courtesy of many of the great transportation compa- 
nies in extending to the exchange service the privilege of 
free freight has been continued even to the present day, and 
the assistance that has thereby been rendered to the Institu- 
tion, and indirectly to libraries and scientific institutions 
throughout the world, cannot be overestimated. 

The influence that the Smithsonian Institution has exerted 
through its international exchange service upon other in- 
stitutions of learning at home and abroad, and how far its 
aim in the diffusion of knowledge has been accomplished by 
the methods whose history for half a century has here been 
sketched, are touched upon elsewhere. The enrichment of 
its own library has been but incidental. It can safely be said 
that no large library in the world has not experienced its 
benefits, while individual workers in science have been 
reached upon the very outskirts of civilization, and have been 
afforded encouragement and aid, and the means of communi- 
cating with their fellow-workers for half a century. 


By Samuel Pierpont Langley 

N the view of one of those who did much to 
shape the early history of the Smithsonian In- 
stitution, — President John Quincy Adams, — no 
more prominent object could be designed for 
the expenditure of the Smithson bequest than 
the erection and maintenance of an observatory — an institu- 
tion which would be local in its site only, and devoted to 
objects in which all men were interested. 

In the bilP introduced at his instance to provide for the 
disposal and management of the Smithson fund, it is enacted 
that part of the accruing interest be appropriated toward 
the erection and establishment in the city of Washington of 
an astronomical observatory adapted to the most effective and 
continual observations of the phenomena of the heavens, to 
be provided with the necessary, best, and most perfect instru- 
ments and books, for the periodical publication of the said 
observations, and for the annual composition and publication 
of a nautical almanac. 

A like clause appears in a subsequent bill,- and though 

1 House of Representatives, No. 386, Twenty-seventh Congress. 

2 House of Representatives, No. 418, Twenty-eighth Congress. 


420 The Smithsonian Institution 

neither of these bills became law, it is well to remember how 
strenuously the application of the Smithson fund to this pur- 
pose was urged at the time when the Institution was taking 
the shape it now bears. 

At the time that President Adams submitted these bills 
astronomy had departed little from the beaten track in which 
it had moved for centuries, and in which its main object had 
been to fix with precision the places of the heavenly bodies, 
without determining their nature. As the writer has else- 
where said : 

" The prime object of astronomy until lately has been to 
say zuhere any heavenly body is, rather than ivkat it is, but 
within the present generation a new branch of astronomy has 
arisen, which studies the heavenly bodies for what they are 
in themselves and in relation to ourselves. Its study of the 
sun, for instance, beginning with its external features, led to 
the inquiry as to what it was made of, and then to the finding 
of the unexpected relations which it bore to the earth and to 
our daily lives on it, the conclusion being that in a physical 
sense it made us and recreates us, as it were, daily, and that 
the knowledge of the intimate ties which unite man with it 
brings results of a practical and important kind which a gen- 
eration ago were hardly guessed at." 

As the aims of this new astronomy are different from the 
old, so are its methods, in which it bears but an imperfect 
resemblance to those of the older or classic astronomy ; and 
this diversity of method influences even the external struc- 
ture. In place of an imposing edifice, crowned by a dome 
which shelters a great telescope, we are more likely to find 
a modest installation in which the telescope, though present, 
is not necessarily the important feature; in which there are 
no great meridian instruments, but instead a room shel- 
tering spectroscopes, photographic objectives, and the like; 

The Astrophysical Observatory 421 

while in place of the equatorial and of the meridian instru- 
ments which are elsewhere used in the same way, night after 
night during perhaps a large part of the lifetime of the ob- 
server, the apparatus of the new astronomy is frequently 
modified, and, in an active observatory for solar research, will 
probably be found to be undergoing repeated change, the 
work being more or less of the nature of discovery, and each 
discovery leading probably to some alteration and improve- 
ment of the means by which the last was attained. 

In the half century which has elapsed from the time when 
President Adams manifested so strong- an interest in astron- 
omy, and after the government had erected and provided for 
an observatory, — the United States Naval Observatory, at 
the capital, necessarily devoted to the pursuit of the old 
astronomy, since at that time there was none other, — the 
conception of another form of astronomy arose in the minds 
of men of science ; and in 1861, when Kirchhoff and Bunsen 
published their researches on spectrum analysis, the "new 
astronomy " may be said to have been born. 

It has been modified since in many directions, and as its 
public importance became recognized, it has at the hands of 
various European governments had special establishments 
consecrated to it. Thus, in France, in the Observatory of 
Meudon, near Paris, constant observations have been carried 
on upon the solar surface by Monsieur J. Janssen, by means 
of photographic processes, which have greatly surpassed in 
accuracy any preceding ones, while parallel researches have 
gone on there upon the nature of the absorption which pro- 
duces the various lines of the spectrum, and other matters of 
interest in connection with solar studies. 

The French government for two hundred years has had 
an observatory, within the city of Paris, devoted to the 
classical astronomy ; and this new installation, at the Pare 

42 2 The Smithsonian Institution 

de Meudon, overlooking the city, is a recognition both of 
the public importance of the work and of its distinct charac- 
ter from that prosecuted at the older establishments. 

In Germany, the Prussian government, in addition to its 
observatory in the city of Berlin, for the old astronomy of 
precision, has erected and most liberally endowed an astro- 
physical observatory in the park in Potsdam, not very far 
from the capital. In Italy various establishments of the 
same character exist, and in other continental countries, and 
in England, there are several such observatories, due chiefly 
to private beneficence. 

In the United States there are fewer; one of those most 
definitely devoted to the new class of investigation being that 
in the neighborhood of Pittsburg, which was maintained 
largely through the munificence of a private citizen, the late 
William Thaw, of that city. 

Owing to the nature of the investigations carried on, the 
astrophysical observatory should be situated, as a rule, in 
the open country : not in the precincts of a city ; for in many 
cases it is even more important than in an ordinary observa- 
tory that it should be remote from the tremor and disturb- 
ance of such a neighborhood. 

When the writer — whose professional life has been largely 
given to these researches — was invited by Secretary Baird, 
of the Smithsonian Institution, to come to Washington, it 
was with the understanding that the government should be 
asked for, and might be expected to furnish, the means and 
the site for such an observatory ; but the death of Mr. Baird 
prevented the matter having the aid of his weighty recom- 
mendation before Congress.^ 

1 Concerning this it is remarked in the sions, the biological and the physical, and 

Report of the Secretary of the Institution since it has been the case that of late years 

for the year 1888 : the first of these has been almost exclusively 

" Natural science falls into two great divi- encouraged by the Smithsonian, it was the 

The Astrophysical Observatory 


When the writer accepted the position as Secretary of this 
Institution, in November, 1887, nothing had been done; but 
Doctor Jerome H. Kidder, a friend of the Institution and of 
the proposed observatory, had designed to interest wealthy 
private citizens of Washington in the plan, and to obtain 
from this source a fund which would be put at the disposal 
of the Smithsonian Institution for this purpose/ 

The lamented death of Doctor Kidder put an end to this 
plan also, but through the generosity of Doctor Alexander 

desire of the late Secretary, Professor Baird, 
to do something to restore the balance, and 
with this end in view he had made prepara- 
tions to secure an astrophysical observatory 
and laboratory, and though these prepara- 
tions were interrupted by his death, it is un- 
derstood lliat through his action some friends 
of the Institution have already offered to give 
the means for the erection of the modest 
structure needed for the accommodation of 
such a special observatory. The site would 
necessarily be suburban, on account of the 
especial need of seclusion and the absence of 
tremor in the soil, such as is felt in the 
neighborhood of the streets of a city. 

" No steps have yet been taken to secure 
a site, but in view of the promise of means 
for the building, and the fact that the con- 
struction of the necessary apparatus will oc- 
cupy a long time, I have ordered such of the 
essential pieces as are not likely to be ready, 
even under these conditions, till the building 
is prepared to receive it." — Smithsonian 
Report, 18S8, page 19, 

1 This is referred to in the Report of the 
Secretary for the year ending June 30, 1889, 
(page 7) as follows: 

" In my last Report I spoke of the prep- 
arations made by the late Secretary for se- 
curing an astrophysical observatory and 
laboratory of research, and I mentioned that 
through his action some friends of the Insti- 
tution had already offered to give the means 
for the erection of the simple structure needed 
for the accommodation of such a special ob- 
servatory. I added that the site would nec- 
essarily be suburban on account of the special 
need of seclusion and the absence of tremor 
in the soil. 

" I have elsewhere referred to the collec- 
tions of the Institution in connection with the 
purchase by Congress of a zoological park, 
which it would appear tohave been the first in- 
tent of Congress to place under the care of the 
Regents. It had been my hope in that case 
to place this observatory somewhere in the 
park, but in view of the long delay which has 
already arisen, and of the indefinite further de- 
lay which may occur, I have thought it better 
to put a wooden structure of the simplest 
and most temporary character in grounds 
immediately south of the Institution, al- 
though this site is quite unsuitable for a per- 
manent building. Such a shelter will proba- 
bly be erected before the coming winter, and 
will, while serving as a store-house for the 
apparatus, enable observations to be com- 

" The promotion of original research has 
always in the history of the Institution been 
regarded as one of its most important func- 
tions, and the proper object of the personal 
attention of the Secretary ; and I shall be 
very glad to do something in this direction 
on the most modest scale, rather than incur 
the chance of indefinite further delay." 

And also in the Secretary's Report ending 
June 30, 1890 (page 10) : 

" I take pleasure in reporting that the In- 
stitution has been able to do rather more for 
the encouragement of original research than 
it has done for several years past. 

" Referring to my two previous Reports in 
regard to the project of Professor Baird for 
securing an astrophysical observatory and 
laboratory, I am able to say that this object 
has assumed definite shape in the construc- 
tion of the temporary shed which has just 


The Smithsonian Institution 

Graham Bell, a sum of $5000 was at this time put at the dis- 
posal of the Secretary, for scientific researches, and Doctor 
Kidder had given a legacy of the same amount, which was by 
his wish to be devoted to advancing the interests of the new 

Under these circumstances, the writer, in 1890, made a re- 
quest to Congress for the assignment of a site, removed from 
the tremor of the city, on which it was proposed to erect a 
building of such an extremely modest character as could be 
put up for the sum in question, to be supplied with instru- 
ments, in part at least, by the Institution, and to be main- 

been mentioned. In this shed there have 
been built, as the most expensive part of the 
structure, a number of brick piers required 
for the firm support of the delicate apparatus 

"The principal instrument consists of a 
siderostat constructed by Sir Howard Grubb, 
of Dublin, Ireland, for the Smithsonian In- 
stitution, to meet my special requirements. 
This arrived in March, 1890, and has been 
mounted and put approximately into position 
for use. Another important and novel in- 
strument, a spectro-bolometer, was made un- 
der my directions to meet new and unusual 
demands, and has also been received and 
put in place. A third piece of apparatus, a 
special galvanometer, also designed for the 
particular class of work in view, has been re- 
ceived ; and the only considerable instrument 
now required to complete the outfit is a re- 
sistance box, which has been ordered and is 
expected from London before the end of the 
calendar year. 

"The siderostat is probably the largest 
and most powerful instrument of its kind 
ever constructed. The spectro-bolometer is 
the largest instrument of its kind, and with 
this improved apparatus it is hoped that in- 
teresting investigations begun several years 
ago will be continued. 

" Supplementary to these there are a few 
pieces of apparatus, the personal property of 
the Secretary, so that at the close of the year 
it might be said that the Institution was in 
possession of the nucleus of a modern astro- 
physical laboratory. With this apparatus 

temporarily mounted, researches have already 
begun, and one of a scientific and economic 
character, upon ' The Cheapest Form of 
Light,' has been the subject of a communi- 
cation to the National Academy of Sciences. 
This work is mentioned as indicating my in- 
tention to give greater place to one of the 
chief objects of the Institution, — the direct 
addition to knowledge by original research, 
— which, at least as regards the physical 
sciences, has received comparatively little at- 
tention since the time of Professor Henry. 

" The prospects of renewed contributions 
to physical science by the Institution in the 
field of original research are happily now 
better than for many years past. The late 
Doctor Jerome H. Kidder, formerly an offi- 
cer of the United States Navy, and later 
attached to the United States Fish Commis- 
sion and to the Smithsonian Institution, had 
bequeathed to the Institution, in a will made 
several years ago, the sum of $10,000, to be 
employed for biological researches. Doctor 
Kidder, having become especially interested 
in the proposed astrophysical observatory, 
had the intention of transferring this bequest, 
or at least a portion of it, to such an end, and 
he even ordered that a codicil giving $5000 
to the Institution for an astrophysical ob- 
servatory should be added to bis will, but he 
was stricken with so sudden an illness that 
he was unable to sign it. In view of these 
circumstances and after careful deliberation 
upon the matter, the Regents decided to ac- 
cept as finally and decisively indicative of the 
wishes of the testator the provisions of this 

The Astrophysical Observatory 


tained by an appropriation from Congress. In anticipation 
of this, one or two of the principal instruments which would 
take long in construction were ordered in advance of the 
erection of the building which was to shelter them. 

Owing to difficulties which it is not necessary to rehearse, 
the granting of a site, which it had been first proposed to 
occupy within the extended grounds of the new park, was 
deferred, and the following appropriation was made by Con- 
gress in the Sundry Civil Act of March 3, 1891.^ It is proper 
to record that it was largely through the interest of Mr. 
Joseph G. Cannon, Chairman of the Committee of Appropri- 

codicil bequeathing $5000 for tlie purpose 
of an astrophysical observatory, and this 
sum was therefore paid by Doctor Kidder's 
executor to tlie Institution. 

"A further sum of $5000 was likewise 
generously presented by Doctor Alexander 
Graham Bell to the writer individually for 
the prosecution of the researches in astro- 
physics, to which he has devoted much of his 
life, but it has seemed proper to him, under 
the circumstances, tiiat this sum should be 
placed to the credit of the Smithsonian In- 
stitution upon the same footing as the Kidder 
bequest, and with the consent of the donor it 
has been so transferred. I am, therefore, 
desirous of here expressing my own personal 
as well as my official obligation to Doctor 
Bell for this gift for the increase of know- 

" The initial step for the establishment of 
an astrophysical observatory under the na- 
tional government thus having been taken by 
private individuals, it is hoped that Congress 
will see fit to place it upon a firm footing, 
and to make a small annual provision for its 
maintenance. And it seems proper to men- 
tion that the field of research to which such 
a department of the Institution would be de- 
voted, has been considered of sufficient im- 
portance by the legislators of leading foreign 
nations to justify the erection of costly spe- 
cial observatories and to provide for their 
maintenance with a staff of astronomers and 
physicists of wide reputation. 

"The class of work here specially referred 
to does not ordinarily involve the use of the 


telescope, and is quite distinct from that car- 
ried on at any observatory in this country. 
It would in no way conflict with the work of 
the present United States Naval Observatory, 
being in a field of work that the latter has 
never entered. 

" Briefly stated, the work for which the 
older government observatories at Green- 
wich, Paris, Berlin, and Washington were 
founded, and in which they are for the most 
part now engaged, is the determination of 
relative positions of heavenly bodies, and of 
our own place with reference to them. 
Within the past twenty years all these gov- 
ernments but our own have established 
astrophysical observatories, as they are called, 
tliat are engaged in the study of the constitu- 
tion of the heavenly bodies as distinguished 
from their positions ; in determining, for ex- 
ample, not so much the position of the sun 
in the sky as the relation that it bears to the 
earth and to our own daily wants ; how it 
affects terrestrial climate ; and how it may 
best be studied for the purposes of the 
meteorologist, and so on ; and it is an ob- 
servatory of the latter kind that the donors 
just mentioned appear to have had promi- 
nently in view, and which it is proposed to 
conduct (tliough on an extremely modest 
scale) under the auspices of the Institution." 

1 Astrophysical Observatory, Smithsonian 
Institution, 1892. For maintenance of /Vstro- 
physical Observatory, under the direction of 
the Smithsonian Institution, including sala- 
ries of assistants and the purchase of addi- 
tional apparatus, ten thousand dollars. 


The Smithsonian Institution 

ations, and through that of Mr. J. D. Sayers, a subsequent 
chairman, that the appropriation was made. It was given 
with the understanding that this modest sum annually would 
suffice for some years for the maintenance of the observatory 
and for the provision of its apparatus, and this was the more 
feasible as no expenditure would be involved for its manage- 
ment and direction, which it was intended to leave in the 
hands of the Secretary, whose services would be given with- 
out cost to the government. 

The Smithsonian Institution has the title to a park of about 
twenty acres of land, forming a portion of the larger area 
commonly known as "The Smithsonian Park," and in this 
narrow area, in the portion immediately south of the principal 
buildings of the Institution, surrounded by streets and traffic; 
in this (from a scientific point of view) most unfit site there 
was erected in 1890,^ at the cost of the Institution, — not of 

1"A temporary wooden building of the 
simplest possible construction has been 
erected in the Smithsonian grounds just 
south of the main building, having been be- 
gun on the i8th of November, 1889, and 
finished about the 1st of March, 1890. This 
building is not to be regarded as an entirely 
suitable or permanent housing for.the instru- 
ments. Its location, close to traveled streets, 
is unsuited for refined physical investigation, 
but the preliminary adjustment of the instru- 
ments and certain classes of work can be 
effectively and conveniently carried on here. 

" The principal instrument is a specially 
constructed siderostat by Sir Howard Grubb, 
of Duljlin, Ireland. This instrument is in 
position. A spectro-bolometer, the outcome 
of many years' experience, has been made, 
under my personal direction, by William 
Grunow & Son, of New York, and has been 
received and mounted. A galvanometer, de- 
signed for the particular class of work in 
view, has been received, and was the last of 
the principal pieces of apparatus (provided 
for from the Smithsonian fund) to be put in 
place. The outfit is now in the main com- 

"This country has no observatory devoted 
exclusively to astrophysical research, though 
England, France, and Germany have main- 
tained for a number of years at a considerable 
expense observatories for the study of the 
physical condition of celestial bodies. I 
therefore indulged the hope that, in present- 
ing the matter to Congress, as previously 
reported, a request for a small annual appro- 
priation for the maintenance of the observa- 
tory thus founded and equipped might meet 
with favorable consideration. I may say 
that the amount asked for ($10,000 for an- 
nual maintenance) has been appropriated, 
and will be available during the coming fiscal 

" In adjusting and determining the constants 
of the instruments, a work involving consid- 
erable labor, I have had the valuable assist- 
ance of Professor C. C. Hutchins, of Bowdoin 
College, during a portion of the summer va- 
cation. No i)ermanent appointments of the 
assistants who will be required to carry on 
the investigations contemplated will be made 
until after the appropriation shall have be- 
come available." — Smithsonian Report, 
1 89 1, page 7. 

The Astrophysical Observatory 427 

Congress, — a one-story building, or rather shed, whose object 
was to furnish an immediate shelter for the instruments al- 
ready ordered, and to enable some work to be done under 
the appropriation while a more suitable site and building were 
being provided. This site has not yet, after a lapse of over 
six years, been obtained, and the investigations which are to 
be described have been carried on under all the disadvantages 
of such an entirely inadequate installation. 

It will be seen in the subsequent description of this work 
that above any other department, even, of astronomical re- 
search, it demands entire quiet and absence of tremor in the 
surroundings, and that it has been necessary to give so long 
a time to certain researches is due to the difficulties inherent 
in the site rather than in the methods of observation. 

I MAY preface a brief account of the work of this new observ- 
atory by repeating a portion of what has been already said, in 
laying before the committees of appropriations of the Senate 
and House, the reasons which should induce government aid : 

" The general object of astronomy, the oldest of the scien- 
ces, was, until a very late period, to study the places and mo- 
tions of the heavenly bodies, with little special reference to 
the wants of man in his daily life, other than in the applica- 
tion of the study to the purposes of navigation. 

"Within the past generation, and almost coincidentally 
with the discovery of the spectroscope, a new branch of as- 
tronomy has arisen, which is sometimes called astrophysics, 
and whose purpose is distinctly different from that of finding 
the places of the stars, or the moon, or the sun, which is the 
principal end in view at such an observatory as that, for in- 
stance, at Greenwich. 

"The distinct object of astrophysics is, in the case of the 
sun, for example, not to mark its exact place in the sky, but 
to find out how it affects the earth and the wants of man on 

42 8 The Smithsonian histitution 

it ; how its heat is distributed, and how it, in fact, affects not 
only the seasons and the farmer's crops, but the whole sys- 
tem of living things on the earth, for it has lately been proven 
that in a physical sense it, and almost it alone, literally first 
creates and then modifies them in almost every possible way. 

" We have, however, arrived at a knowledge that it does 
so, without yet knowing in most cases how it does so, and 
we are sure of the great importance of this last acquisition, 
while still largely in ignorance how to obtain it. We are, 
for example, sure that the latter knowledge would form 
among other things a scientific basis for meteorology and 
enable us to predict the years of good or bad harvests, so far 
as these depend on natural causes, independent of man, and 
yet we are still very far from being able to make such a pre- 
diction, and we cannot do so till we have learned more by 
such studies as those in question. 

" Knowledge of the nature of the certain, but still imper- 
fectly understood, dependence of terrestrial events on solar 
causes is, then, of the greatest practical consequence, and 
it is with these large aims of ultimate utility in view, as well 
as for the abstract interest of scientific investigation, that the 
government is asked to recognize such researches as of na- 
tional importance ; for it is to such a knowledge of causes 
with such practical consequences that this class of investiga- 
tion aims and tends. 

"Astrophysics by no means confines its investigation to 
the sun, though that is the most important subject of its 
study and one which has been undertaken by nearly every 
leading government of the civilized world but the United 
States. France has a great astrophysical observatory in 
Meudon, and Germany one on an equal scale in Potsdam, 
while England, Italy, and other countries have also, at the 
national expense, maintained for many years institutions for 
the prosecution of astrophysical science. 

" It has been observed that this recent science itself was 
almost coeval with the discovery of the spectroscope, and that 
instrument has everywhere been largely employed in most 
of its work. Of the heat which the sun sends, however, and 

The Astrophysical Observatory 429 

which, in its terrestrial manifestations, is the principal object 
of our study, it has long been well known that the spectro- 
scope could recognize only about one-quarter; three-quar- 
ters of all this solar heat being in a form which the ordinary 
spectroscope cannot see nor analyze, lying as it does in 
the almost unknown 'infra-red' end of the spectrum, where 
neither the eye nor the photograph can examine it. It has 
been known for many years that it was there, and we have 
had a rough idea of its amount, with an almost total incapac- 
ity to exhibit it in detail. Our imperfect knowledge of this 
region is at present represented by a few inadequate types 
of parts of it given in drawings made by hand, where the 
attempts to depict it at all are even to-day more crude than 
the very earliest charts of the visible spectrum made in the 
infancy of spectroscopic science. 

" One of the first pieces of work which this observatory has 
undertaken is to explore and describe what may be properly 
called 'this great unknown region,' by a method which the 
writer has recently been able to bring to such a degree of suc- 
cess as to give good grounds for its continued prosecution 
and for the hope that a complete map of this whole region 
will shortly be produced by an automatic, and therefore trust- 
worthy, process, showing the lines corresponding to the so- 
called Fraunhofer lines in the upper spectrum." 

It is now well understood that nearly every movement 
which goes on within the confines of this planet, not only 
from changes of the seasons or of rain, or the movement of 
wind, or storm, but every manifestation of life from that of 
the lowest vegetable form, up through animal existence, to 
that of man, including all his works and industries, comes 
from the sun, so that man himself and all his works are, in 
a physical sense, strictly its product. 

It is known in some cases to what these effects are traced, 

in the greater number we are still ignorant, but in all cases 

we know that a something we call " energy " comes across the 

430 The Smithsonian Instihttion 

void of space from the sun to the earth in its rays, and falHng 
upon us affects our senses in various ways. 

When it falls upon our bodies it produces a sensation of 
warmth ; when it falls upon our eyes it produces a sensation 
that we call "light" ; when it falls upon our skin it produces 
also an effect different from either ; for instance, it tans the 
cheek, by what we call chemical action, but these three dif- 
ferent effects are caused by the same thing — solar energy, 
which differs in its manifestations according to the body on 
which it falls, but is one and the same always in its essence. 
When it falls upon the ocean it draws the water up into the 
sky to drop subsequently to the earth as rain ; when it falls 
upon the land, it rears everything from the blade of grass to 
the tree ; and so through all animate and a large part of 
inanimate nature we find everything that affects man and 
his interests on the earth to come to us in this sunbeam, 
whose study gradually leads to conclusions of not merely 
interesting but of an eminently practical character. 

Sir Isaac Newton, letting these rays pass through a prism, 
discriminated between them, pointing out that they were com- 
posed of different colors, but he did not know that there was 
anything in them beyond what the eye could see. Nearly 
one hundred years later, in the first year of the present cen- 
tury, it occurred to Sir William Herschel to move a thermom- 
eter in the spectrum formed by a prism, and notice the heat 
in the different rays. He found little heat in the blue, more 
in the green, and more still in the red, where to the eye the 
spectrum appears to end. Carrying the thermometer still 
further, that is, entirely outside and beyond the visible spec- 
trum at its red end, he found that the instrument rose still 
more, showing that there was something there invisible to 
the eye. It was recognized later that the heat in this invisi- 
ble region was greater than all the heat in the region that 

The Astrophysical Observatory 431 

could be seen ; but beyond diis litde was known, except the 
fact that this heat was of different kinds, and possessed of dif- 
ferent properties, in the same way that hght is possessed of 
different colors; there was no considerable investigation of 
the matter, from the lack of any thermometer delicate enough 
to appreciate the heat in very small portions, and capable of 
being placed with such precision as to discriminate the posi- 
tions of these portions one from another. 

Since the beginning of this century, it had been known 
that there had been made visible to the eye in the Newton- 
ian spectrum certain sharply defined black lines called, from 
their discoverer, "F'raunhofer lines," and which we now know 
are caused by selective absorption in the atmospheres of the 
sun and of the earth jointly. Some of these are due to our 
atmosphere alone, and come and go with different states of 
the weather, affording a direct means of predicting the ap- 
proach of rain. All of them are of interest in other ways than 
to the meteorologist, though all are interesting to him also. 

Now, if we take a base line, 
and at certain intervals, set off 
upon it perpendicularly lines 
proportional to the height of ^- 
the thermometer in the corre- ^ fed ^^^^^^^^^ 
spending parts of the spectrum, lamanskys curve. 

we obtain some such curve as is shown in the fio-ure. 
where the portion on the right indicates what is invisible, 
and shows three interruptions, discovered by Lamansky in 
1871,^ and which as indicating nearly all that was known 
before the writer commenced his work may be compared 
with the curve given later. The invisible portion of the 
spectrum contains a great deal more energy than all the 

1 Lamansky M. S. "On the Heat-Spectrum of the Sun .and the Lime-light." London, 
Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine, Volume LXlii, 1872, page 282. 

432 The Sinithso7iian Institution 

rest that is visible. The actions, then, to which nearly all 
the changes on earth are due, go on principally in this invisi- 
ble region ; but, with the exception of some investigations by 
Draper and Becquerel in the part just below the visible red, 
this was all that was known in the matter twenty years ago ; 
for since these rays cannot be seen, and cannot be made evi- 
dent by ordinary photography, there remains no way of in- 
vestigating this most important region, except by means of 
some instrument which, like the thermometer or the thermo- 
pile, will register the heat. For lack, then, of a more sensitive 
instrument than science possessed, in this way, very little had 
been done until the year 1881, in which the writer invented 
a more delicate method of measuring heat, by means of 
an instrument which he called the " bolometer." This 
consists essentially of a metallic tape, usually about a 
third of an inch long, but narrower and far thinner than a 
human hair, through which an electric current is kept con- 
stantly passing. It is found that the slightest change in the 
heat which falls on this tape will affect a distant galvanometer 
connected with it, so that as the effects of vision are no way 
concerned, but only of heat, this may be compared, figura- 
tively, to an eye which sees in the dark. Moreover, as this 
thread can also be pointed with extreme precision, as in the 
case of a vertical thread of an ordinary transit instrument, 
the greater sensitiveness is accompanied by a corresponding 
accuracy of measurement. 

This instrument was, at that time, able to indicate a change 
of temperature of one one-hundred-thousandth of a degree, 
and it had the incidental advantage that it could be pointed 
so as to tell, within a fraction of a minute of an arc, in what 
part of the spectrum the change to which it was sensitive was 

A full description of the bolometer must be sought else- 

The As trophy steal Observatory 433 

where ; but, in further explanation, it may be said that the 
electric current always passing flows less freely when the 
minutest degree of heat falls upon the strip, and more freely 
when this is made in the least colder, so that the galvanome- 
ter needle swings in the first case to the right, and in the 
second to the left ; and this, at present, may be arranged to 
record changes of temperature as small as one millionth of a 
degree. When this minute strip, or tape, is moved through 
the invisible spectrum, the tape being parallel to the Fraun- 
hofer lines, since what is black to the eye is cold to it, its 
contact with one of them produces cold, which increases the 
flow of electricity, and the galvanometer needle moves as 
described. When it passes into a warmer region, the needle 
moves in the opposite direction; and in each case the amount 
by which the needle moves is proportional to the degree of 
heat or cold in question, so that the final result is the same 
as if a thermometer could be constructed much finer than a 
human hair, from which all of these indications could be read 
on such an extended scale that the millionth part of a degree 
was visible, this thermometer being moved through the spec- 
trum, and falling or rising, according as it meets one of these 
dark and cold lines or g^oes into a warmer reofion. This 
rise or fall indicates, then, the presence of such a line, whe- 
ther the eye can see it or not, and when we pass out of the 
visible into the invisible region, this method remains trust- 
worthy where the eye and photography both fail us. 

When the instrument was first used, at least two observers 
were required, one to note the reading of the circle which 
fixed the place of the bolometer in the spectrum, and another 
who sat at the galvanometer and noted through how many 
divisions of the scale the needle swung, owing to the electric 
disturbances, the whole process being comparable to a groping 
in the dark, involvino^- oroing- over and over the work aeain 

'000 o 


The Smithsouian Institution 

and again, month after month and year after year, with almost 
interminable repetition, so that a galvanometer had, in fact, to 
be read over a thousand times to obtain with sufficient accu- 
racy the position and amount of a deflection of the energy 
curve in any single part of the invisible region. It took 
nearly two years to fix the position of twenty lines by this 
process, with the degree of accuracy then aimed at. 






The annexed figure shows the amount of heat in different 
portions of the spectrum shown by the inflections of the curve 
as obtained by this early process ; but since it took two years 
to fix the position of twenty lines by this means, it would take 
a hundred years to fix the position of a thousand lines, sup- 
posing they existed; and it became evident that, if the bolom- 
eter continued to be the only means available, new methods 
of using it must be devised. 

Accordingly, when this work was commenced at the Smith- 
sonian Observatory, a plan which had been under study by 
the writer for more than ten years was introduced, by means 
of which the work could be carried on not only with far 

The Astrophysical Observatory 435 

greater rapidity, but with greater certainty, and by an auto- 
matic process. The idea in its original simplicity is very 
easily understood. 

In the old process, just described, the deflection of a spot 
of light upon a scale was read by one observer, while another 
simultaneously read the position in the spectrum of the cold 
band, or line, which caused the thermo-electric disturbance. 

Now, in imagination, let us take away both the observer at 
the circle and the one at the galvanometer, and in the latter 
case remove the scale also, and put in its stead a photographic- 
ally sensitive plate. As the needle swings to the right or left 
the spot of light will trace upon the plate a black horizontal 
line, whose leneth will show how far the needle moves and 
how great the heat is which originated the impulse. If this 
be all, when under an impulse originated by the movement 
of the spectrum over the bolometer thread the needle swings 
a second time, it will go over the same place; but if the plate 
have given it by clockwork a uniform vertical movement pro- 
portional to the horizontal movement of the spectrum, the 
combination of the two motions of the needle and the plate 
will write upon the latter a sinuous curve which will be, in 
theory at least, the same as the curve formerly deduci- 
ble, only with much pains, from thousands of galvanometer 

If we suppose that the movements of the invisible spec- 
trum, as well as of the plate, are controlled by the same 
clockwork, so that this spectrum is caused to move uniformly 
over the bolometer thread, and that these movements are, by 
accurate mechanism, rendered absolutely synchronous with 
those of the moving plate, it is clear that we shall be able 
to readily deduce from the photographic curve traced on the 
latter not merely the amount of the heat, but each particular 
position in the spectrum of the thread of the bolometer, 

43 6 The Smithsonian Institution 

which alone can correspond with any given inflection of the 

The theory is simple, but the practice is extremely difficult, 
and it has, in fact, consumed nearly five years of continuous 
labor to produce the results which are obtained by the pres- 
ent apparatus, which works in the following manner : 

A beam from the mirror of the siderostat is conveyed 
through the slit of a telescope having a rock-salt objective of 
about ten meters focal length to the prism, which is mounted 
on the massive spectro-bolometer, the novel feature lying in 
the mechanical connection of the large circle carrying the 
prism with a distant photographic plate, susceptible of verti- 
cal motion, and taking the place of the scale formerly in front 
of the remote galvanometer, both circle and plate being now 
moved by the same clockwork, through a continuous train of 
shafting, which works with such steadiness and precision as 
to make the two movements entirely synchronous. 

To understand this better, let us suppose that the very 
slowly moving circle carrying the prism moves the spectrum 
through one minute of arc in one minute of time, across 
the vertical bolometer thread. To the observer watching the 
spectrum the motion is as slow as that of the hour-hand on the 
dial, but it is continuous and uniform, and the same mechan- 
ism which causes this motion of the spectrum of one minute 
of arc in one minute of time causes the photographic plate to 
move vertically, before the galvanometer mirror, at any given 
rate, — for instance, at the rate of one centimeter of space in 
one minute of time. It follows that during every second of 
this minute a portion of the spectrum represented by one 
second of arc will have glided before the bolometer thread, 
and that during this same second the photographic plate will 
have been lifted automatically through one sixtieth of a centi- 
meter in space ; the essential thing being that the plate shall 

The Astrophysical Observatory 





















43 8 The Sinithso7iian Institution 

show, on simple inspection, not only the inflection of the 
energy curve there written down, but the exact relative posi- 
tion in the distant spectrum which the bolometer thread oc- 
cupied at the moment it caused the disturbance. By suitably 
changing the wheels in the clockwork we may cause the 
spectrum to move fast or slow, in the former case giving only 
its principal inflections, in the latter case giving a great deal 
more of detail, but with liabilities to error, which will be 
spoken of later. 

The building shown in the annexed sketch plan, which 
was erected in 1890 at the cost of the Institution, has been 
slightly modified from its original form to meet the wants of 
this process as they have been developed by experiment, and 
it is only lately that the small photographic room shown at 
the right has been added. The observatory's latitude and 
longitude as given by the United States Coast and Geodetic 
Survey is 38° 53' i7".3 and 5'' 08"" 06'' .24 respectively. 

The building is essentially a room arranged so that it can 
be closed to all light by means of sliding shutters before the 
windows, and by a sliding shutter under the skylight in the 
roof, and containing an inner chamber F F which can be kept 
at a constant temperature. In the front is a small room L 
containing books and writing materials, below which is a 
cellar in which are stored the batteries and a furnace, the 
latter being no longer used, having been replaced by steam 
radiators R, operated from another building. Around the 
walls are cases containing those pieces of apparatus which 
are not in constant use, and, with the exception of the small 
cellar, the floor joists are almost in contact with the soil, but 
piers for the instruments rise to the level of the floor at A, 
76 centimeters above the floor at B, and 40 centimeters 
above the floor at J. When the shutters are closed the 
only light which enters comes from the siderostat at C, which 

The Astrophysical Observatory 439 

sends a horizontal beam from north to south along the meri- 
dian at a height of 1 10 centimeters from the floor, through 
the tube T. 

The principal piece of apparatus, the spectro-bolometer, is 
shown at D. This instrument, made by W. Grunow & Son, 
is a development of that already devised by the writer and 
figured by him in the "American Journal of Science."^ Its 
object is to enable researches to be made on that invisible 
portion of the solar radiation below the red in which it is now 
known that a greater part of all the solar energy lies, in a 
region whose details have been, up to the present researches, 
comparatively unknown. 

This instrument consists of an azimuth circle of 52 centi- 
meters diameter, reading by verniers to five seconds of arc. 
Over the center of the azimuth circle is a prism, ordinarily of 
rock-salt, a material pervious to the rays in question, which 
do not freely pass through glass. This prism is fixed to a 
mirror parallel to its rear surface, and it turns with it when 
the circle is turned. A horizontal ray from the siderostat, 
which falls upon the prism, passes through it at an angle of 
minimum deviation, falls upon the plane mirror, and is by 
that reflected to a distant concave mirror, 7n, by which an 
image of the spectrum is formed at S. In the actual case, 
the visible part of the solar spectrum is about nine inches in 
length and one high, and filled with Fraunhofer lines, which 
are visible to the naked eye when projected upon a screen. 
The rays fall upon the strip of the bolometer at E. 

If, now, the circle be moved by the clockwork K, and with 
it the prism and its attached plane mirror, the spectrum is 
put in motion relatively to the bolometer strip, so that this 
is virtually carried through the spectrum, its exact position 
in it being at all times determined by reference to the circle. 

1 "The Selective Absorption of Solar Energy," Volume xxv, page 169, March 1S83, plate 2. 

440 The Smithsonian Institution 

As the strip of the bolometer passes through a dark line, its 
temperature falls, less current passes through the cable con- 
necting it with the distant galvanometer, shown at G, and the 
needle of the latter instrument is deflected, showing how 
great the radiant heat of the spectrum was at the precise 
position in question. In the accompanying illustration are 
shown two such curves obtained on different days, quite in- 
dependently of each other, by two successive movements such 
as have been described through the whole spectrum. They 
represent nearly two hundred lines, which are otherwise 
shown in the plate in the usual form as a line spectrum. 
The general coincidence of the two curves one with another 
affords the most convincing proof that could be desired of 
the accuracy of the process, which thus obtains in a few 
hours data which could hardly be obtained by a life-time of 
assiduous labor with the old one. But this new method 
is so sensitive that it can record more minute inflections 
than are here set down, these inflections being intentionally 
slurred over, as here given. 

When, however, we proceed with the aim of developing all 
the minute deflections that are caused by the changes in the 
atmosphere of the sun and the earth, we are confronted with 
the difficulty common to delicate physical measurements of 
every kind, that, owing to the sensitiveness of our apparatus, 
it will register deflections due to causes which we are not 
concerned with, and do not want to record. For instance, if 
a wagon be passing in a distant street the jar communicated 
to the ground, although quite imperceptible to all ordinary 
sense, will be registered by the galvanometer, forming a 
minute inflection of the curve, which might be confounded 
with those produced by the action of the sun itself, the distant 
sun and the wagon in the next street registering their action 
in the same place and in the same manner. 


WAVE-LENGTHS 0.75jx TO -._.:.;j.. 

440 The Smithsonian Institution 

ir passes throug 

as have ceeii ccscriDcci tarougn cnc v. 
represent nearly two hundred lines, 
shown in the plate in the usual form as 
oincidencp of the twc 

' ^-'-^of that could 

e old one. But this new method 
t it ran record more mir 
than .i •. 'se inflections ^nally 

sli ven. 

Vv ncj we proc' ith the aim of de 

inute deflections that are caused by the chang 

-. - . „--i and the earth, we are confrn- 

the dui. ■ -■ ■-- to delicate physical men ■ 

kiiiu ' nsitiveness of our apparatus, 


itself, the disr 

reet reeist. ._ their .: 

M' " ■ bu.::e manner. 






\^ — '.. 

/' ■ -y 

are many other causes of local d t it 

be understood that they are too slight to distort the 
when we are only taking the main features of the 
curve, as is shown in the exai- ' given. But it is 

! the minuter f the solar • va- 

are sought that these local distur are of 

,ame order nf ma crn nme especK- . . . 

n, the- lake a fuller m 

ularities o\ 
e con. 


Ihe ler mus; eferred to pr 

rs for ar of th ns of overcoming these d 

^s, but that the ^ >f the 

achieved, it is rema. -. that enrh inf!< 

ivertible into a line 1 ^ ~ 

process of con 

, wha .11 our knowle 

;^een. Describing it ^.. ^ upon th' 

al spectrum '"- —"-■'" lulcu that '-^ "^^' 

ewton be unit 
ould be represented by a li 

29 iM"..^ HT-tr/:a:j-avAV/ 



WAVE-LENGTHS 2.09[i TO 5.69jj.. 

The Astrophysical Observatory 441 

There are many other causes of local disturbance, but it 
should be understood that they are too slight to distort the 
record, when we are only taking the main features of the 
solar curve, as is shown in the example just given. But it is 
when the minuter details of the solar and terrestrial observa- 
tions are sought that these local disturbances, which are of 
the same order of magnitude, become especially troublesome. 
When, therefore, we proceed to make a fuller map of the 
irregularities of the invisible spectrum than shown above, we 
are compelled to study the causes of these accidental deflec- 
tions, and to try to eliminate them, and this necessity has 
greatly delayed the work, a full account of which will shortly 
be published. 

The professional reader must be referred to professional 
papers for an account of the means of overcoming these diffi- 
culties, but that the general reader may conceive of the re- 
sults achieved, it is remarked that each inflection of the curve 
is convertible into a line by a nearly automatic optical process, 
giving linear spectra, and while the measurements of pre- 
cision are made upon the original curves, these linear spectra 
are united by a process of composite photography for the 
purpose of illustration. That presented on the accompanying 
plate is obtained by another method. 

With it is given on the scale of mean dispersion the length 
of the spectrum as known to Sir Isaac Newton " (H — A)" 
to show what the extent of the increase in our knowledge 
has been. Describing it otherwise upon the scale of the 
normal spectrum, it may be stated that if the length of the 
spectrum as observed by Newton be unity, its length as here 
given would be represented by a little over twelve, and very 
nearly all of this addition has been made by the application 
of the processes which have been described. 

A comparison of the three superposed curves with the 

442 The Smithsoniaji histitiition 

vignette already given from Lamansky's drawing will show 
in another way the progress which has been made by 
bolometric research. 

I have described here but one research, though that is not 
the only one prosecuted at the observatory. Among others 
one of more general interest is that on the "Cheapest Form 
of Light," carried on by the joint use of the bolometer and 
photographic processes, of which an account will be found in 
the "American Journal of Science."^ The principal conclusion 
of the research just named is that processes exist by which 
light can be produced without the present waste of energy in 
producing invisible heat along with it — a conclusion of much 
practical importance. 

Other and subordinate researches will be described else- 
where; of the principal one here spoken of it is proper to 
repeat that the difficulties have been enormously increased by 
the unsuitability of the site, and that it is to be earnestly hoped 
that the Institution may be enabled later to provide a more 
fitting one. 

1 Volume XL, page 97, August, 1890. 


By Frank Baker 

NTEREST in living animals is a characteristic 
of both savage and civilized man. Doubtless 
this was at first a mere curiosity to know more 
of the creatures he pursued in the chase or 
against whose attacks he had to guard, but 
later it rose to that desire to understand the phenomena of 
life in general, to obtain some insight into the mysteries of 
being, which is at the root of all scientific zoological studies. 

Royal preserves and menageries are as old as the civiliza- 
tions of Assyria and Egypt, and it was from the East, by 
means of the Roman conquerors, that the first collections of 
animals were brought to Europe. The displays of the Roman 
triumphs and the conflicts of famishing beasts in the arena 
were but little calculated to advance the interests of zoology, 
but it is from these that we trace the genesis of the zoological 
collections of to-day. Exhibitions of animals for the purpose 
of impressing the populace with the wealth or power of the 
ruling sovereign were common during the Middle Ages. 
The Emperor Frederick II had at his Sicilian court a notable 
collection, from which he sent to Henry III of England three 
leopards, in compliment to the three animals of that species 


444 The Smithsonian Institution 

which appeared in that monarch's coat-of-arms. These ani- 
mals, with an elephant sent not long after by Louis IX of 
France, formed the nucleus of the famous Tower Menagerie, 
that was kept up until 1834, when it was merged with the 
Zoological Garden now in Regent's Park in London. 

The well-known collection of exotic animals in the Jardin 
des Plantes in Paris had a similar origin, being derived from 
the royal menagerie maintained with different degrees of in- 
terest by various kings, and finally, at the time of the French 
Revolution, turned over to the people. 

The conditions prevalent in these royal collections were 
not as a rule favorable to the study of animals, and we con- 
sequently find that with few exceptions they aided the ad- 
vancement of zoology but little. The animals were usually 
kept in small and badly ventilated cages with slight regard 
to their proper food or natural habits, and it is therefore not 
at all surprising that the mortality among them should have 
been very great. It was not until the care of such collections 
was intrusted to scientific zoologists that any improvement 
was manifested. 

The collections of Europe seem, however, to have been 
surpassed in extent, variety, and magnificence by those of 
the New World, where an equable climate, a rich fauna, and 
a natural fondness of the natives for animals appear to have 
combined to produce much better results. The accounts 
of the menageries of Montezuma and the Incas read like 
fairy tales. They were doubtless of great size and richness, 
but the conquerors of Mexico and Peru left nothing of these 
extraordinary collections. 

In the United States the establishment of permanent col- 
lections of animals for public exhibition is comparatively 
recent. The menagerie in Central Park in New York was 
not contemplated by the original plan of that park, but grew 

The National Zoological Park 445 

up from chance gifts made to the city authorities, from i860 

In Philadelphia a zoological society, composed of public- 
spirited citizens interested in natural history, succeeded in 
1872 in raising sufficient funds to begin the construction of a 
zoological garden in a retired portion of Fairmount Park. 
This garden, though limited as to space, has always been con- 
ducted with reference to the advancement of science, and is 
now, probably, the most important collection in America. A 
zoological society in Cincinnati also succeeded in 1874 in 
securing a collection of animals for exhibition. It now has 
an excellent garden in a flourishing condition. Collections 
of living animals have been formed in San Francisco, Chicago, 
St. Louis, Atlanta, Buffalo, Detroit, Pittsburg, and other 
places. Some of these are controlled by the city authorities 
as an attractive feature of public parks, others kept by priv- 
ate parties for their own pleasure or profit in game preserves 
thousand of acres in extent. 

The collection of animals for exhibition as museum speci- 
mens was early commenced by the Smithsonian Institution. 
This necessarily involved the accumulation of skins and skele- 
tons and the employment of skilled taxidermists to study the 
natural forms of living animals in order that they might im- 
part to the prepared specimens the grace and characteristics 
of life. A considerable number of livinor animals was ob- 
tained for this purpose annually, and as there were no 
adequate arrangements for keeping them, they were, after 
serving as studies for the modeler, either killed for their 
skins, or, if not desired as specimens, sent to the zoological 
garden in Philadelphia. During their temporary detention 
at the Institution such specimens attracted much notice from 
visitors. It early occurred to Mr. S. P. Langley, the present 
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, that it would be 

44 6 The Sinithsonian Institution 

easy to extend this method so as to secure a considerable 
collection of livinof animals. 

The National Museum was fortunate in having upon its 
staff at that time Mr. William T. Hornaday, well known for 
his unusual skill as a taxidermist, and for his travels in Bor- 
neo and South America for the collection of specimens of 
natural history. As his interest in the matter was very 
great, a separate department of the National Museum, that 
of living animals, was created, and of this he was appointed 
curator. As a result of his energy and activity the museum 
possessed, at the close of the fiscal year 1887-88, no fewer 
than two hundred and twenty living specimens. 

At this time public interest was much excited by the al- 
most total extinction of the American buffalo or bison, which 
once covered the country as far east as Virginia with herds 
of almost countless numbers, and which, retreating before 
civilization, had finally succumbed to the unchecked extrava- 
gance of avaricious hunters and the repeating rifle until there 
remained but a few herds, small in numbers and widely scat- 
tered. This is one of the most striking and appalling cases 
of the effect of the contact of man with animate nature, but 
many others were also noted which, though less in degree, 
showed all thoughtful people that most of the larger native 
animals indigenous to this continent were doomed to extinc- 
tion unless active measures were taken to protect and pre- 
serve them. The great auk and the sea-cow of Steller are 
now to be seen only in museum cases, and rank in the popu- 
lar mind with the dodo and the megatherium ; the sea-ele- 
phant has nearly if not wholly disappeared, and the manatee 
is approaching extinction. The moose, the caribou, the 
antelope, the mountain sheep and goat, the fur seal, the 
sea otter, the Pacific walrus, and even the grizzly bear and 
panther, are rapidly disappearing, and in a few generations 

The National Zoological Park 447 

may share the fate of the moa, the mammoth, and other 
animals once widely distributed but now extinct. 

The loss to zoological science in the disappearance of these 
animals is, of course, very great, and from an economic point 
of view the matter is by no means to be disregarded. When 
we consider the enormous food value of the great herds of 
bison, that, with a little care, might have been preserved 
almost indefinitely upon those parts of the country fitted only 
for grazing, we realize how shameful and unwise the waste 
has been. The extirpation of the fur seal and sea otter 
deprives this country of some millions of dollars of annual 
revenue ; the elk and deer if carefully protected would yield 
flesh and skins of considerable value ; the wild pigeon and 
the prairie chicken, now nearly extinct, have had a definite 
market value of no small amount. When we notice with 
what care similar animals are preserved in European coun- 
tries, and the prices that they readily command when brought 
to market, the reckless extravagance with which the vast 
animal resources of this continent have been wasted becomes 
apparent. It seemed to Secretary Langley that the Institu- 
tion might do something to bring this matter clearly before 
the eyes of our legislators and of the public generally by 
exhibiting specimens of the most important animals likely to 
suffer extinction, placing them as nearly as possible in the 
conditions natural to them so that they might breed and 
thrive in captivity as in their native haunts. An enterprise 
of this kind could also assist in the general difiusion of zo- 
ological knowledge, especially if there were associated with 
these animals that it was desired to preserve from extermi- 
nation such specimens belonging to the fauna of widely 
distant regions as might be useful for purposes of comparison 
or illustration. There would thus be combined the advan- 
tages of a park in which animals could be studied in nearly 

44^ The Smithsonian Institntion 

their native condition and the attractions of the ordinary 
zoological garden. 

It was believed that this project was entirely novel and that 
it marked some advance over any scheme for the maintenance 
of animals in captivity that had up to that time ever been 
proposed. The zoological gardens of European capitals are 
invariably situated in the midst of a numerous population, 
where spacious grounds cannot be spared for their mainten- 
ance. This greatly embarrasses their development and the 
result is that the animals therein exhibited rarely if ever 
appear in their natural conditions, and the old methods of 
crowding, a heritage from the royal menagerie, yet prevail 
to some extent. It is rarely possible to accommodate their 
captivity to their obvious needs. 

The question of a possible site for such an enterprise was 
at once raised. Secretary Langley, with rare judgment, 
turned his attention to the picturesque valley of Rock Creek, 
a small affluent of the Potomac that empties at Georgetown. 
This little stream, ordinarily very quiet and peaceful, drains 
an area of about eighty square miles in the District of Col- 
umbia and Montgomery County, Maryland. The steepness 
of its watershed, which lies among the foothills of the Blue 
Ridge, is such that in a few hours, after a heavy and pro- 
longed rain, the little brook may swell to a foaming torrent. 
This has caused an amount of erosion that seems quite out 
of proportion to the size of the stream, and it accordingly lies 
some two hundred feet below the level of the surrounding" 
hills, in a valley varied greatly in its aspect according to the 
devious windings of the stream and the nature of the soil. 
It would be impossible to find in this latitude a situation 
more admirably adapted to the preservation of wild animals, 
combining as it does exposures of every variety, sunny slopes 
and cool hillsides, level meadows and rocky cliffs, affording 

The National Zoological Park 449 

an abundance of excellent water, and sufficiently near the 
city to make it easily accessible. 

Fortunately the land along this beautiful stream, being 
hilly and not immediately available for building purposes, 
had not shared the general advance of prices that had 
affected nearly all property in the vicinity of Washington. 
Upon a hasty survey of the region made by Mr. Hornaday, 
under the direction of the Secretary, it was found that a tract 
of one hundred acres or more could be procured for a sum 
that did not seem exorbitant. 

It was not found difficult to interest public-spirited persons 
in an enterprise of this novel and peculiar character, which 
would not only afford an excellent opportunity for zoological 
study, but would also give to the public a beautiful pleasure 
ground, and preserve from devastation and the real-estate 
agent a delightful region greatly needed as a park by the 
inhabitants of Washington. Senator Beck, of Kentucky, and 
Senator Morrill, of Vermont, were among the first to warmly 
espouse the cause of the new park. The former introduced a 
bill on April 23, 1888, which provided for a commission, com- 
posed of the Secretary of the Interior, the President of the 
Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia, and the 
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, which was to have 
power to select and obtain land, to lay it out as a National 
Zoological Park, and finally to turn the same over to the 
Regents of the Smithsonian Institution. This bill received 
the earnest support of Senator Morrill and many other gen- 
tlemen in both Houses of Congress. Attached as an amend- 
ment to the sundry civil appropriation bill, it failed before the 
conference committee appointed by the two Houses. 

At the next session of Congress a measure of a similar 
character was introduced by Senator Edmunds as an amend- 
ment to the District of Columbia appropriation bill. With 

450 The Smithsonian histitution 

this was associated an appropriation of $200,000 for the pur- 
chase of land for the desired site. It became a law upon 
March 2, 1889. 

The commission constituted by this act made an exhaust- 
ive examination of all the land in the valley of Rock Creek 
available for a site, and finally selected about one hundred 
and sixty-six acres lying two miles from the Executive 
Mansion and not far distant from frequented public roads 
and street-car lines. Some difficulty was found in estab- 
lishing the boundaries of some of the tracts, owing to the 
fact that many of the landmarks described in the earlier 
deeds had become obliterated by the lapse of time. This 
was, however, satisfactorily overcome at last, and the survey 
of the grounds was finally completed November 21, 1889. 
It was not until November 4, 1890, that possession was 
finally obtained of the entire site. 

On April 30, 1890, an act was passed definitely placing 
the National Zoologfical Park under the direction of the 
Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, authorizing them to 
transfer to it any living animals in their charge, to here- 
after make exchanges of specimens, and to administer the 
Park "for the advancement of science and the instruction 
and recreation of the people." Thus the National Zoological 
Park became an accomplished fact, and the work of develop- 
ing it was begun with great enthusiasm. 

The first care was, necessarily, the preparation of the site 
and the providing of means of access to it. The funds at 
the disposal of the Regents for all objects, including roads, 
walks, bridges, water-supply, sewerage, fencing, and build- 
ings, were less than $100,000; and when it is remembered 
that the zooloo-ical collections of other cities are housed in 
buildings of modest proportions, it is true, but which have 
cost from $300,000 to $400,000, it will be seen that no very 

The National Zoological Park 451 

great results were to be expected from such inadequate 
means. The preparation of grounds alone must necessarily 
be very expensive — the proper laying out, planting, and 
improving for park purposes being estimated by experienced 
authorities at from $3,000 to $5,000 an acre. 

It was at once determined to procure the best possible 
professional advice for the general planning and laying out 
of the park, it being felt that the utmost care should be 
taken to preserve the extraordinary natural beauties of the 
region, and that none but a master could be expected to 
adapt to the needs of the project so charming a piece of pic- 
turesque rural landscape. Mr. Frederick Law Olmsted, 
whose reputation as a landscape architect is world-wide, was 
asked to give his advice, and visited the park on several 
occasions for that purpose. While it has not been possible, 
from want of funds, fully to carry out the plan outlined by 
him, it is hoped that no serious errors have been made, and 
that the leafy retreats of this lovely valley afford much the 
same pleasure to the tired citizen that they did when their 
beauty was known to few beyond the wandering naturalist 
and the solitary rambler. 

It being impossible, with the resources at command, com- 
pletely to develop the entire area of the park, it was found 
advisable to select a portion of the most available ground for 
immediate improvement, leaving the remainder in a state of 
nature. The area selected comprised about fifty acres situ- 
ated in the most central part of the park, where previous 
clearings had already made some open helds and grazing 
land, and where the ground was sufficiently level to offer a 
variety of suitable building sites. 

Considerable sums were necessarily expended in lading 
out roads, in protecting the banks of the stream, in form- 
ing ponds for aquatic animals, and in planting and otherwise 

452 The Smithsonian Institution 

improving the grounds. There is at present a single main 
macadamized road extending through the park. Though 
this is by no means free from defects, as on the side next the 
city the approach is so steep as to be dangerous for heavily 
loaded vehicles, it has served the purpose of access. It is 
expected that additional roads will be built at an early day. 

In view of the probable future increase of the collection, 
it seemed desirable that the principal buildings should be 
planned in such a way as to admit of possible extension. It 
was also thouofht best that all structures should be of a char- 
acter adapted to the retired and picturesque natural scenery 
of the neighborhood. Imposing buildings, even if they could 
have been constructed within the small sums allotted by Con- 
gress, would have been out of place and calculated to mar the 
restful effect of the quiet valley in which they were located. 

The offices of the park were established in an old and 
dilapidated mansion, the only dwelling found upon the whole 
area of the site. This mansion is one of the earliest built in 
this region, dating back to 1805, and is in a most picturesque 
spot encircled by a broad sweep of Rock Creek. Its isolated 
situation makes it especially suitable for any matters of ad- 
ministration desirable to remove from the general public, 
such as laboratory work, the seclusion of sick animals, and 
the growth of plants and shrubs for the grounds. 

During the first year the entire park was fenced in, a 
single roadway was established extending through the area 
just referred to, and the creek was spanned by an inex- 
pensive bridge. 

While it would have been desirable to prepare at once 
houses for different classes of animals, so that each could 
have the treatment most appropriate to its needs, it was 
impossible, for want of funds, to arrange for more than one 
house which should shelter animals requiring heat during 

llie National Zoological Park 453 

winter. This included both animals from the valley of 
the Amazon, that never in their native haunts experience 
great changes of temperature, and those from the southern 
portion of the United States, that thrive better when exposed 
to considerable vicissitudes. The carnivorous nocturnal ani- 
mals had to be housed with the timid herbivorous ones natur- 
ally wakeful by day. Experience has shown, as was expected, 
that better results would have been obtained had it been 
possible to separate these groups. 

The animals turned over to the management of the Na- 
tional Zoological Park were one hundred and eighty-five in 
number, large and small. They had been kept huddled to- 
gether in such temporary quarters as could be provided in a 
low shed and a few small paddocks upon the south side of 
the Smithsonian building. They were then transferred to 
their permanent quarters at the park. 

The experience of the first year was in every way favor- 
able. Great interest was taken by the public in the new 
enterprise, a considerable number of valuable gifts were 
made, among which was an Asiatic elephant presented by 
Mr. J. E. Cooper, of the Forepaugh shows. A few valuable 
specimens were purchased as opportunity offered of obtain- 
ing them at reasonable figures. The whole enterprise took 
on a healthy growth, and was evidently firmly established. 

During the next year the mutations of politics caused a 
change in the dominant political party, and there were elected 
to the House of Representatives a large number of new 
members to whom the park was a totally unknown project. 
The Committee on Appropriations no longer regarded it 
favorably, and the annual estimates, which were made only 
with reference to the proper and economical development of 
the original design, were much reduced. Further than this, 
the authority to increase the collection by the purchase of ani- 

454 The Smithso7iian Institution 

mals, which had been contained in the previous appropria- 
tion acts, was withdrawn, and it was evidently intended to re- 
strict the operations of the park as much as possible. Indeed 
the question of abolishing it altogether was at one time con- 
sidered, but better counsels finally prevailed. This policy 
naturally retarded to a considerable extent the growth so 
auspiciously commenced. Instead of permanent structures 
suited to the needs of each class of animals, temporary make- 
shifts were necessarily erected, which, requiring to be fre- 
quently repaired and renewed, involved in the end a waste 
of public money. 

In no matter was this policy more injurious than in its 
effect on the growth of the collection. It now became impos- 
sible to procure specimens except by gifts, by transfer, or by 
collecting them at great expense within the limits of govern- 
ment preserves, like the Yellowstone National Park. Expe- 
rience has shown that the increase by gifts is very precarious. 
The animals given are, it is true, sometimes very valuable ; 
often, however, they are diseased or defective in some way. 
They are usually the random, accidental finds made by 
chance sportsmen or curiosity hunters, and are, naturally, 
more numerous in certain classes than in others. Numbers 
of opossums, raccoons, and small alligators are yearly pre- 
sented, but no one has ever thought of presenting a moose, a 
caribou, a manatee, a sea-lion, or any of the important ani- 
mals for the preservation of which the park was especially 

The increase by transfer really amounts only to this, that 
certain of the animals bred within the park may, if any one 
chances to want them, be exchanged for others. Native 
American animals are not much used in menageries, and 
there is, therefore, but little demand for them. Slight use 
has, therefore, been made of this privilege. 

The National Zoological Park 455 

By the kind cooperation of the Secretary of the Interior, 
permission was given to the Smithsonian to make collections 
of wild animals within the Yellowstone National Park. This 
has become the only source of supply for certain species. It 
was hoped that large numbers of buffalo, elk, deer, antelope, 
moose, and beaver might be obtained there, and considerable 
sums have been expended for the purpose of building corrals 
and paddocks within that park for the capture and temporary 
confinement of animals and their transportation to Washington. 
This has proved an expensive undertaking. The isolation of 
the Yellowstone Park enhances greatly the prices of labor and 
material there, and its great distance from this city makes the 
charges for transportation amount to as much or more than 
the value of the animals. 

Some interesting results have, however, been attained. A 
colony of beavers was, with considerable difficulty, collected 
and placed in the National Zoological Park, where the animals 
at once made themselves at home and proceeded to build a 
lodge and several dams after the most approved fashion. It 
was thought that it would be necessary to isolate them entirely 
from the public, but it is found that they readily become tamed, 
those which have been properly treated having no fear of man, 
eating from the hand and carrying on their building operations 
undisturbed by the presence of the public. 

With regard to results attained by the park, it may be said 
that the popular interest in the collection is very great. On 
Sundays and holidays the walks and buildings are crowded 
with visitors, and any important accessions at once increase 
the throng. On several occasions the attendance has ex- 
ceeded ten thousand a day, and once, when a considerable 
number of new animals had just arrived, it nearly reached 
thirty thousand by actual count. Classes of children from 
the public schools are constantly seen during fine weather, 

45 6 The Smithsonian InsHhttion 

in the school season, carefully examining the animals and 
noting their characteristics under the guidance of their teach- 
ers, who in this way are enabled to give them definite instruc- 
tion in the elements of natural history. Art students may 
often be seen making studies from life, drawing, painting, and 
modelinor the animals. To the taxidermist such studies are 
invaluable and indispensable. 

It is, of course, impossible, even with as generous an area 
as that afforded in the National Zoological Park, to reproduce 
perfectly the conditions of nature. It would not be practica- 
ble to give to moose a large forest in which to browse, or to 
caribou a growth of the arctic lichens and mosses upon which 
they thrive. Neither would it be desirable to allow the ani- 
mals to prey upon each other as they do in a state of nature. 
It is, however, perfectly possible to keep them in reasonable 
health and activity, and to present them to the public in con- 
ditions that are far more instructive than those which prevail 
in ordinary institutions of the same sort. 

One of the best tests of the salubrity of the conditions 
under which the animals are kept is the readiness with which 
they breed. The buffalo, elk, deer, panther, wild-cat, and 
even the black bear, beaver, and porcupine, have all brought 
forth young. In the case of the bear this result has rarely 
been attained in captivity. There is no reason to doubt that 
any of our native animals that can endure this climate will 
increase without difficulty if appropriately treated. 

The collection, though far from what it might be, is an ex- 
cellent beginning. As the enterprise was conceived mainly 
in the interest of preserving animals likely to become extinct, 
much more attention has been given to native than to exotic 
species. Herds of buffalo, of llamas, of elk, and of deer have 
been formed. Two teams of Esquimaux dogs, one presented 
by Mrs. Peary, and one loaned by Mr. Bruce, have bred 

The National Zoological Park 457 

freely, and the animals appear to endure the heat of our sum- 
mers without serious inconvenience. A collection of domestic 
dogs, intended to show the great variation of that species by 
typical examples of well recognized breeds, has been com- 

A few valuable exotic animals have been presented to the 
park. Besides the large elephant given by Mr. J. E. Cooper, 
there is a fine lion brought from the Matabele country of cen- 
tral Africa by Mr. H. C. Moore; a female leopard from the 
headwaters of the Congo by Mr. R. Dorsey Mohun, and a 
zebu presented by Mr. J. H. Starin. 

It is hoped that all the restrictions that impede the growth 
of the collection will in time be removed. Purchase of animals 
should be allowed, both because it is the only practicable way 
of properly keeping up the collection, and because it is desir- 
able that certain exotic species should be introduced for pur- 
poses of comparison. Unless this is done the park must 
necessarily be relegated to a low rank as compared with other 
zoological collections. 

A considerable amount of material for study is derived from 
the animals that die in the park. If suitable for museum 
specimens their skins and skeletons are preserved by the 
United States National Museum. It is hoped soon to estab- 
lish a suitable laboratory for the adequate anatomical and 
pathological investigations of this material, as is done in con- 
nection with all European collections of living animals. This 
promises much for the advancement of biological sciences, for 
the anatomy of many of the rarer American animals is im- 
perfectly known, and many of the diseases of animals in con- 
finement are obscure and but little understood. 

The future success of the park cannot be doubted. Popu- 
lar interest everywhere is being awakened upon the subject 
of the preservation of game and the care of animals in cap- 


45 8 The Smithsonian Instihttion 

tivity. In New York City a zoological society has been 
formed which has recently had set aside for its use a tract 
of land in one of the public parks two hundred and sixty-one 
acres in extent. Upon this it is intended to erect buildings 
at a cost of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and to 
maintain a large collection of animals both native and foreign. 
It would seem proper that the National Park should have an 
establishment at least equal to this. A feeling of national 
pride should lead all public-spirited citizens to take an active 
interest in the increase and suitable maintenance of the col- 
lection. At present it is not as widely known as it should 
be. When United States officials in all parts of the world 
become interested in its advancement, it is believed that the 
scope of the enterprise will be vastly increased. 


By Frederick William True 

^\0 give a just conception of the work of the 
Institution in connection with explorations in 
the brief space which can be afforded in this 
volume, is a task of much difficulty. Its in- 
TT^^^^ fluence has been exerted in a thousand direc- 
tions, and the extent and manner of its cooperation have 
varied greatly in different instances. Furthermore, from its 
policy of aiding where aid seemed most needed, it has very 
naturally joined in enterprises from year to year which had 
no essential connection with one another. In a single year 
it assisted in explorations in Alaska, in Ecuador, and in 
Ohio. The character of the explorations in which the In- 
stitution has interested itself has varied no less than the field 
they cover. While it may perhaps be said that more aid has 
been rendered to zoological exploration than any other, re- 
searches in anthropology, botany, geology, and geography 
have also received a laree share of attention. 

Though frequently showing itself willing to bear the bur- 
den of expense, the funds of the Institution have never been 
sufficient to enable it to defray the whole cost of explorations 


4^0 The Sinifhsonian Institution 

of great magnitude. Fortunately, so far as North America 
is concerned, the government of the United States, a few 
years after the founding of the Institution, inaugurated a 
great series of surveys for railroad routes across the conti- 
nent, and for the delimitation of boundary lines. These 
have been followed by general topographical and geological 
and biological surveys, and by explorations of the coasts and 
of the rivers and lakes in the interest of commerce and the 
fisheries. An extensive knowledge of the characteristics and 
natural resources of the continent has thus been obtained 
very largely at the expense of the general government. Yet 
in all these undertakings the influence of the Institution has 
been felt, and its aid has been of importance. Especially 
was this true in the earlier years of its history, when the par- 
ticipation of the government in scientific research was less 
extensive and less varied than at present. In many lines the 
Institution was a pioneer, and the government interested 
itself only after the importance and the practical bearings of 
the investigations had been demonstrated. 

In explorations, perhaps, more than in any other form of 
activities, the peculiar workings of the policy of the Institu- 
tion can be seen to advantage. Established "for the increase 
and diffusion of knowledge," its rule has nevertheless been 
that of "not expending the Smithson fund in doing with it 
what could be equally well done by other means"; but, on 
the other hand, it has endeavored to foster those worthy en- 
terprises which seemed likely to fail for want of proper sup- 
port. In explorations, as in other lines of work, it has not 
entered into competition with kindred organizations, but has 
endeavored to make their work broader and more successful, 
without the expectation of advantage to itself It has not 
sought the credit which attaches to the management of great 
explorations, but has found satisfaction in aiding other or- 

Exploration Work of the Institution 461 

ganizations to bring their labors in the cause of science to 

In the plan of organization of the Institution, among ex- 
amples of objects for which appropriations may be made, the 
following are cited : 

"Explorations in descriptive natural history, and geologi- 
cal, magnetical, and topographical surveys, to collect mate- 
rials for the formation of a Physical Atlas of the United 

" Ethnological researches, particularly with reference to the 
different races of men in North America ; also explorations 
and accurate surveys of the mounds and other remains of the 
ancient people of our country. 

" 1 

It so happened that the first scientific memoir submitted to 
the Institution for publication was one on American archaeol- 
ogy — the now famous work of Squier and Davis on the 
** Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley ; comprising 
the results of Extensive Original Surveys and Explorations." 
This work was submitted to the Secretary of the Institution, 
May 15, 1847, and by him referred to the American Ethno- 
logical Society, of which Albert Gallatin was President. The 
committee which examined it reported it "worthy of the sub- 
ject and highly creditable to the authors," and its publication 
by the Institution was therefore undertaken. The Institution 
by this action expressed its recognition of the importance 
of scientific explorations, and has shown a continued interest 
in work of this character by publishing, year by year, in the 
"Contributions" or the "Report," the results of other field 
investigations in zoology, botany, geology, and ethnology. 

The publication of Squier and Davis's work awakened an 
interest in American archeeological investigation which has 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1846, pages 6 and 7. 

4^2 The SmitJisoiiian Institution 

ever since been kept alive. In 1849, ^ ^^^ years after the 
appearance of the first volume, the Institution evinced its con- 
tinued interest in this subject by publishing a work by Squier 
on the antiquities of New York, based on explorations made 
at the joint expense of the Institution and the Historical 
Society of New York. 

The same year the Institution lent its aid in the increase 
of the knowledge of the physical geography of the United 
States by publishing a treatise on the hydrography of the 
Ohio River "from actual surveys," written by Charles Ellet, 
the engineer of the first Niagara suspension-bridge. 

In the direction of botanical explorations, the first aid ren- 
dered by the Institution took the form of a small appropri- 
ation for the expense of an expedition to Texas, in 1849, by 
Charles Wright, under the direction of Asa Gray. The re- 
sults of this expedition were published in the "Contributions" 
in 1852 and 1853.^ 

Of the collections made at that time Professor Henry re- 
marked : 

" Specimens of all the plants obtained by Mr. Wright be- 
long to this Institution; and these, with sets collected by 
Fendler and Lindheimer, form the nucleus of an important 
and authentic North American herbarium."^ 

The sixth volume .of the " Contributions," published in 
1854, contained a paper by Torrey on the botany of Cali- 
fornia, based on the explorations of Fremont. 

At this early day the Institution also rendered aid to ex- 
plorations of especial importance to paleontology. In the 
Report for 1850, Professor Henry remarked: 

" The programme of organization contemplates the insti- 
tution of researches in Natural History, Geology, etc.; and 

1 Gray, Asa, " Plantse Wrightianse Texano-Neo-Mexicanre." Part I, 1852; part 2, 1853. 

2 "Smithsonian Report," 1851, page 11. 

Exploration Work of the Institution 463 

though the state of the funds would permit of Httle being- 
done in this line, yet we have made a beginning. Besides the 
assistance rendered to the exploration of the botany of New 
Mexico, by the purchase of sets of plants from Mr. Wright 
and Mr. Fendler, as mentioned in my last Report, a small sum 
was appropriated to defray the cost of transportation of the 
articles which might be collected by Mr. Thaddeus Culbert- 
son in the region of the Upper Missouri. This gentleman, 
a graduate of the institutions at Princeton, had purposed to 
visit the remote regions above mentioned for the benefit of 
his health, and was provided by Professor Baird with minute 
directions as to the preservation of specimens and the objects 
which should particularly engage his attention. 

"Mr. Culbertson first visited an interesting locality called the 
Mauvaises Terres, or Bad Lands, where his brother had pre- 
viously found the remains of the fossils sent to the Academy 
[of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia]. 

"He afterwards ascended the Missouri to a point several 
hundred miles above Fort Union. . . . Though he had 
withstood the privations and exposures of the wilderness, he 
sank under an attack of a prevalent disease, and died after a 
few weeks' illness. 

" He left a journal of all the important events of his tour, 
which is thought of sufficient importance to be appended to 
this report. 

" 1 

While doinof what it could to make successful the memor- 
able journey of Culbertson, the Institution at the same time 
lent its aid to geological exploration by defraying a portion 
of the expense of researches of Professor E. Hitchcock, of 
Amherst College, on the subject of erosion by rivers, and also 
relative to ancient sea beaches and terraces. The results of 
this work were published later, at large expense, in the ninth 
volume of the "Contributions." 

Thus the Institution made a beginning in many lines of 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1850, page 19. 

4^4 The Smithsonian Institntion 

In connection with the explorations of Culbertson, already 
mentioned, we first learn of the association of Professor Baird 
with this branch of the work of the Institution. His services 
had been recently engaged by the Institution, and he was des- 
tined to play a most important part. Himself an enthusiastic 
explorer in many lines of natural history, and withal a man 
of most engaging conversation and industrious habits, he was 
able greatly to aid the cause of exploration both by supply- 
ing thoroughly practical directions for observation and by im- 
pressing on those in authority the importance of investigations 
of natural phenomena. 

He was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Institution in 
1850, and only three years had passed when the great series 
of Pacific Railroad surveys and the Mexican boundary survey 
were undertaken by the government, while at the same time 
very numerous minor explorations, both under government 
and private auspices, were instituted. Of the two years 1853 
and 1854 Professor Baird writes: 

"The number of important scientific explorations embraced 
in this period mark it conspicuously in the history of Ameri- 
can discovery. Most of these are due to the appropriation 
for the survey of the China seas and Behring's Straits, and 
that for a survey of the several routes for a railroad to the 
Pacific (although many more private expeditions were set on 
foot), in addition to the regular operations of the United 
States and Mexican Boundary Survey, whose labors during 
the past years were in continuation of those commenced 
before. Many reports of explorations, commenced or com- 
pleted prior to 1853, have been published during this period."^ 

He gives an account of twenty-six important explorations 
undertaken in these two years, including the six Pacific Rail- 

1" Smithsonian Report," 1854, page 79. 

Exploration IVork of the Iiistitiition 465 

road surveys, and of nineteen reports of explorations which 
were pubHshed during the same period. 

Of the participation of the Institution in these great activi- 
ties, he writes : 

" With scarcely an exception, every expedition of any mag- 
nitude has received more or less aid from the Smithsonian 
Institution. This has consisted in the supplying of instruc- 
tions for making observations and collections in meteorology 
and natural history, and of information as to particular desid- 
erata ; in the preparation, in part, of the meteorological, mag- 
netical, and natural history outfit, including the selection and 
purchase of the necessary apparatus and instruments ; in the 
nomination and training of persons to fill important positions 
in the scientific corps ; in the reception of the collections 
made, and their reference to individuals competent to report 
upon them ; and in employing skilful and trained artists to 
make accurate delineations of the new or unfigured species. 
Much of the apparatus supplied to the different parties was 
invented or adapted by the Institution for this special pur- 
pose, and used for the first time, with results surpassing the 
most sanguine expectations."^ 

A list of these government explorations, from the Report 
of 1856, may be of interest in this connection. It is as 
follows : 


1. The survey of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and a por- 
tion of Nebraska, by Dr. David Dale Owen. 

2. The survey of the Lake Superior district, by Dr. 
Charles T. Jackson. 

3. The survey of the same region, by Messrs. Foster and 

4. The survey of Oregon, by Dr. John Evans. 

1 " Smithsonian Report," 1854, page 79. 

4^6 The Sniithsojiian Institution 


5. The survey of the hne between the United States and 
Mexico, first organized under Honorable J. B. Weller, as 
commissioner, and Major W. H. Emory, as chief of the scien- 
tific department, then under John R. Bartlett, commissioner, 
and Colonel J. D. Graham, chief of the scientific corps, suc- 
ceeded subsequently by Major W. H. Emory, then under 
General R. B. Campbell, commissioner, and Major W. H. 
Emory, chief of the scientific corps, 

6. The survey of the boundary line of the Gadsden pur- 
chase, under Major W. H. Emory, commissioner. 


7. Along the 47th parallel, under Governor I. I. Stevens. 

8. Along the 38th and 39th parallel, under Captain J. W. 

9. Along the 41st parallel, under Captain E. G. Beckwith. 

10. Along the 35th parallel, under Lieutenant A. W. 

11. In California, under Lieutenant S. R. Williamson. 

12. Along the 3 2d parallel, western division, under Lieu- 
tenant J. G. Parke. 

13. Along the 3 2d parallel, eastern division, under Captain 
J. Pope. 

14. In a portion of California, under Lieutenant J. G. 

15. In northern California and Oregon, under Lieutenant 
R. S. Williamson. 



16. Expedition along the 3 2d parallel, eastern division, for 
experimenting upon artesian borings, under Captain Pope. 

17. Exploration of Red River, under Captain R. B. Marcy. 

Exploration JVork of the Instihttion 467 

18. Survey of Indian reservation in Texas, under Captain 
R. B. Marcy. 

19. Exploration of the Upper Missouri and Yellowstone, 
under Lieutenant G. K. Warren. 

20. Construction of a wagon-road from Fort Leavenworth 
to Bridger's Pass, under Lieutenant F. T. Bryan. 


21. The United States naval astronomical expedition in 
Chile, under Lieutenant J. M. Gilliss. 

22. The Japan expedition, under Commodore M. C. Perry. 

23. Exploration of the China seas and Behring's Straits, 
first under command of Captain C. Ringgold, then under 
Captain J. Rodgers. 

24. Exploration of the La Plata and its tributaries, under 
Captain T. J. Page. 

25. Exploration of the west coast of Greenland and 
Smith's Sound, under Dr. E. K. Kane.^ 

The participation of the Institution in explorations con- 
ducted by the government continued actively for many years, 
though the character of these explorations as a whole has 
varied in the course of time. The surveys for railroad 
routes and wagon-roads across the public lands of the West 
form the first important series of explorations in which the 
Institution was interested. Next after these interest centered 
in the extensive geological surveys of the same region. 
After these came the explorations of the sea-coast, rivers, and 
lakes of the United States by the Fish Commission, and in-